Priti Patel has insisted that Rwanda is a “safe” country, despite warnings from Foreign Office officials of torture and killings.
The latest defence from the home secretary comes after court documents revealed officials in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had concerns about the plan to send illegal migrants to the central African country.
One unnamed FCDO worker said torture and “even killings” are accepted in Rwanda. The UK high commissioner to Rwanda in 2021 warned that the country “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”.
But Ms Patel said: “Well, actually, Rwanda is a safe country.”
“All our work has shown that and the government-to-government work has shown that too,” she added.
“You are of course referring to comments made from officials in a different government department, but of course, it’s the Home Office that has led the Economic Development Migration Partnership, which is our resettlement partnership to Rwanda.
“Rwanda is a safe country and all our work with the government of Rwanda shows that.”
No one has yet been sent to Rwanda, after the first flight to the country was stopped at the 11th hour by legal challenges.
Charities and asylum seekers are currently involved in legal action with the UK government over the scheme.
On Wednesday, Lord Justice Lewis ruled that four extracts from advice from the FCDO to the Home Office on the plan could be withheld from the public, as well as some words in other parts of the document.
The government had been seeking to keep 10 passages completely under wraps.
A full hearing is scheduled to take place next month on whether the plan is lawful or not.
Asked which of Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak would be best placed to deliver the Rwanda policy, Ms Patel declined to endorse either candidate.
She said: “Well, it’s government policy to deliver the resettlement scheme to Rwanda. So this isn’t about any particular candidate – this is the work of the government.
“It is set in stone through the new plan for immigration, which was published in March last year.”
Both Mr Sunak and Ms Truss have backed the Rwanda policy as part of their campaigns to be the next Tory leader.