“If these people are brought to Rwanda, they can live a better life than they are living in prisons in Libya.” This was said by President Paul Kagame while recounting the origin of the Rwanda-UK migration deal to tackle the prevailing global migration crisis.
The Head of State was addressing the diplomatic corps in Kigali during a dinner event on April 26.
It goes back in 2018 when the President was the Chairperson of the African Union and it was at the peak of the issue of many young and old Africans who were taking life-threatening journeys to cross the Mediterranean ocean through Libya and to Europe while being at the mercy of human traffickers.
Kagame said that he suggested to other leaders that these people who were trapped in Libya, who couldn’t go back to their countries nor move ahead in Europe, be brought to Rwanda and other countries interested in helping address the problem were to do a couple of things.
“We agreed that one; if they arrived here, they could easily be taken back home if they choose to. Secondly; those European countries that have allowed migrants to move to their countries should come to stably select the people they want to take to their countries which would be better than being trapped in Libya,” he said.
For the third option, he had also proposed that those who didn’t want to go back to their countries for some reasons and may not be selected by European countries, would be helped with ways by which they could stay in Rwanda.
“That’s how this situation developed with the UK and others contacting us,” said Kagame.
The Migration and Economic Development Partnership between Rwanda and the United Kingdom concerns all the migrants and asylum seekers who arrived in the UK illegally from January 1, 2022, mostly from African countries, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, among others.
Drawing from the example of Afghan schoolgirls relocated in Rwanda recently, he said that the deal will not only look at Africans but even people from other countries.
“There are things you can’t buy about us. We are who we are and proud people and we are not involved in buying and selling people. People will have different views about it …but at the end of the day we have to do something,” he emphasised.
‘Send us the five criminals accommodated in the UK’
In fact, when the UK send us these people, they should also send us people they have accommodated for over 15 years who committed crimes here in Rwanda, Kagame highlighted.
The Rwandan government has, on several accounts, called on the UK to either put on trial or extradite five suspects who have been living in this country for more than two decades.
The key suspects are Vincent Bajinya, Célestin Ugirashebuja, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Célestin Mutabaruka.
Rwanda first notified the UK government of the presence of these suspects on its soil back in 2007 when they issued indictments.
“These are clear case files. Instead of them being accommodated in that beautiful place in the UK, these people should be in jail, either in the UK or here,” he noted.
‘Why Rwanda abolished the death sentence’
You are aware that even when we were dealing with the worst situation to handle, that is the time that we actually abolished the death sentence, Kagame pointed out.
“I don’t think there is anybody in the world, at the time we abolished the death penalty, had better justification to hang people like we did…we were dealing with mass murderers,” he said.
Isn’t this remarkable, in my view, that the people of Rwanda decided that the death penalty be abolished ‘at the wrong time’ because there was an urgency to actually hang people for killing our innocent people, he pointed out.
Diplomats during a dinner event on April 26. Photo by Village Urugwiro.
Members of the diplomatic corps follow President Kagame ‘s remarks during a dinner event on April 26. Photo by Village Urugwiro