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More than 50 per cent of refugee applications made by Rwandans in the UK this year were successful, despite the Home Office maintaining it was safe to deport asylum seekers to the East African nation.

Immigration statistics published by the government show that four of the seven Rwandans who this year applied for asylum in the UK were accepted, two were refused and one application was withdrawn.

The Home Office is reportedly planning a new deportation flight to Rwanda and has already sent out notices of intent to some asylum seekers informing them they might be on the plane. 

The first scheduled flight to Kigali on June 14 was grounded hours before it was set to take off after a series of legal challenges culminating in a European Court of Human Rights decision forced the Home Office to cancel it.

An immigration lawyer in London told The National that the presence of Rwandan refugees in the UK raised serious questions over the safety of sending asylum seekers to the African nation. 

“Why were those people recognised as refugees?” Sonia Lenegan said. “What were the risks they faced there such that they were given asylum?

“Home Office guidance says it is safe to send people there but obviously it isn’t safe for some people, to the extent that they are refugees here.”

While the reasons for the Rwandan applicants seeking asylum remain unclear, Ms Lenegan said the data “undermines the whole policy”.

“You can’t say that it is safe for everyone when clearly it isn’t,” she said.

In a statement sent to The National, a Home Office representative said that “all asylum claims made in the UK are carefully considered on their individual merits, against a background of relevant case law and up-to-date country information”. 

Since 2015, 158 Rwandans, including dependents, had claimed asylum in the UK and 37 were granted protection in the form of asylum, resettlement or another form of leave.

The Home Office added that while Rwandans cannot be removed under the UK government's agreement with the East African nation, “a Rwandan who fails their asylum claim or becomes a foreign national offender can be removed under the usual process”.

At a High Court hearing on June 10, it was revealed that the Home Office made misleading statements about UN involvement in and support of the Rwanda plans.

However, the UN’s refugee agency has repeatedly expressed “serious concerns” over the scheme.

Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais and party to the legal proceedings brought against the government, said she was worried about potential human rights abuse of refugees in Rwanda, “including that they could be forced to join the country’s army and sent to fight in neighbouring states”. 

The most recent report from Amnesty International on Rwanda’s human rights record notes breaches of the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy. It also lists enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force.

Britain has already made payments to Rwanda as part of its £120 million ($147m) asylum scheme, which the Rwandan government confirmed it had already begun spending, despite legal challenges delaying the introduction of the policy.

No 10 Downing Street has not yet revealed how much the payments were nor when they were made under the “confidential” deal signed in April.

Ms Lenegan accused the UK of “taking advantage of Rwanda”.

“Why should the UK take advantage that it is richer than Rwanda to abdicate its responsibility under the Refugee Convention by paying them?” she asked. 

The lawyer said the money would have been better invested in the Home Office, which has been plagued by a backlog of asylum cases and staff shortages.

“We could have seen some really positive changes, people wouldn’t be left in asylum accommodation for so long, we would have cleared out hotels a long time ago, we would have decisions on applications better and quicker,” she said.

A High Court hearing to determine whether the policy to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful is due to start on September 5 in London. By Layla Maghribi, N UK

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera has filed her affidavit in the case challenging William Ruto's election at the Supreme Court.

In the 104-page document, Cherara has laid bare how the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati operated in an opaque manner which she claims 'effectively subverted the constitution and the election laws in the tallying and verification of the presidential election results. 

Cherera who is one of the four commissioners who disowned the presidential results, informs the Apex Court that the presidential election results declared and announced by Chebukati on August 15 were not from IEBC and that they belonged to Chebukati.

She adds that the actions preceding the declaration of the presidential election results were a continuation of the Chairperson's trend of lack of transparency and contempt for fellow commissioners that has characterised his tenure in the commission.

"By his actions and conduct, therefore, the chairperson mistakenly turned the commission into a one-person show and in the process, effectively subverted the constitution and the elections laws," Cherera states in part in her court papers. 

She further argues that the process adopted during the tallying and verification of the presidential results was compounded by lack of transparency. 

Through lawyer Apollo Mboya, Cherera adds that the unverified presidential election results which saw Chebukati declare William Ruto as the President-elect did not indicate the total number of registered voters, the total number of valid votes cast to support the percentages scored by the four candidates or the number of the rejected votes, if any.

Cherera further reveals that at no point did any commissioner seek to 'moderate' election results as per their constitutional mandate.

She further states that the results read out at the national tallying centre had variance and errors which representatives of the presidential candidates and political parties brought to the attention of the court verbally and in writing. By Nancy Gitonga, PD

 

Electoral commission vice chair Juliana Cherera has claimed chairperson Wafula Chebukati secretly printed a second set of results transmission forms without involving other members of the polls body. 

In an affidavit responding to the petitions filed by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Martha Karua seeking to nullify the August, 2022 Presidential election, Ms Cherera accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair of running a one man show that shrouded the polls in mystery.

Ms Cherera says on July 21, 2022, she was in Greece with another commissioner, Francis Wanderi to inspect ballot printing by Eyelpidon-based Lykos (Hellas) SA when they discovered that Mr Chebukati had instructed the firm to print two sets of forms 34A.

Form 34A is the primary presidential election results transmission form that is filled out at polling stations.

Court of Appeal in 2017 ruled that results from polling stations filled in form 34A are final, and can only be overturned by the Supreme Court after filing of a petition.

Ms Cherera holds that various political parties protested the discovery of a second set of documents, boxing the IEBC into calling for a meeting with Presidential candidates to resolve the standoff.

The stakeholders resolved to store the second set of documents in a tamper-proof box.

The IEBC commissioner, however, does not state in her affidavit whether the second set of forms 34A are still intact.

In what she terms as a long list of unilateral decisions, Ms Cherera holds that the Mr Chebukati reassigned commissioners and senior staff midway through the tallying process at Bomas of Kenya. 

Deputy CEO Ruth Kulundu was moved from head of election operations to protocol duties such as receiving VIPs. Her role was then assigned to a junior staffer who is not named in the affidavit.

Irene Massit, the commissioner in charge of the IEBC’s legal committee, was reassigned to hospitality which covers logistics and security.

Justus Nyang’aya, the commissioner in charge of ICT, was also reassigned to protocol duties.

“The chairperson undertook the foregoing re-designations unilaterally without consultation with the commissioners,” Ms Cherera adds.

Ms Cherera claims that while she was in charge of media briefings, Mr Chebukati would hand her unverified hand-written results to read out to the public.

The affidavit states that on August 13 Mr Chebukati ordered all returning and presiding officers to first report to him with the physical forms 34A and 34B before taking any other action.

August 15

For the first time, details of what occurred on August 15, the declaration date, have emerged.

Ms Cherera claims that Mr Chebukati summoned all commissioners to the boardroom at Bomas of Kenya and handed them a summary of presidential results.

Mr Chebukati claimed to have tallied the results from IEBC’s backend server and verified them.

“The chairperson did not indicate how the errors and concerns raised by the representatives of the Presidential candidates and political parties were dealt with. In the said meeting, the commission once again sought to tally and verify the results but the chairperson indicated that he would announce the results and that the commissioners were at liberty to join him at the podium,” she says. 

“On August 15, 2022 the chairperson of the commission proceeded to announce what he termed as the final presidential election results which had not been tallied and verified by the commission,” Ms Cherera adds. By Brian Wasuna, Nation Media Group

IEBC commissioner Justus Nyang’aya during a media briefing. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

One of the four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners who disowned the presidential tally announced by chair Wafula Chebukati has revealed details that led to their objection.

In his response to Raila Odinga and Martha Karua’s petition, commissioner Justus Nyang’aya claimed that a foreigner identified as Gudino Omor and three IEBC staff interfered with the commission’s server and forms 34A, changing the results. 

“That I am aware that a foreigner by the name Gudino Omor was able to access the commission’s server using user ID “O” and to pull down results that had been uploaded from the polling stations and later upload fresh results,” Nyang’aya stated in his response.  

The commissioner further claimed that Omor had gained access to the server from June 1, 2022, and stayed till after the declaration of the final tally.

Nyang’aya also claims that the foreigner’s logs can be easily traced, up from when he accessed the server, when he was active and inactive, and his goings-on in the server.

He has also named three IEBC staff; Abdidahir Maalim, Moses Sunkuli and Gideon Balang as individuals who accessed the commission’s servers, pulled down some uploaded results, and subsequently uploaded others.

“These are the same officers who were helping the second respondent to unilaterally process the results, that were subsequently declared by the second respondent,” the commissioner claimed. 

He also revealed that there was evidence of the logs obtained from the agency’s server showing the IEBC staff interfering with data stored on the server.

He further claimed that changes had been made on Forms 34B after being previously pulled down and uploaded afresh.

In their petition, Azimio-One Kenya leaders Odinga and Karua have raised a myriad of issues including claims that forms 34A obtained at the polling stations were hijacked and altered before being uploaded to the IEBC portal.

Odinga said that his votes were reduced in William Ruto’s Bomet and Kiambu counties strongholds. In his response to the presidential petition Friday, President-elect William Ruto said the election was free and fair, and that Raila Odinga “is known for repeatedly rejecting poll outcome” 

This funding will enable our humanitarian partners address the most urgent emergency needs, including supporting those newly displaced

The European Union (EU) has allocated an additional €4 million (Ugx 15.2 billion) to Uganda, to help the country address the influx of new refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and address the food insecurity in Uganda's Karamoja region, on the border with Kenya. 

The European Union (EU) has allocated an additional €4 million (Ugx 15.2 billion) to Uganda, to help the country address the influx of new refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and address the food insecurity in Uganda's Karamoja region, on the border with Kenya.

EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Prevailing insecurity in the eastern DRC has led to an increase in the number of refugee arrivals in neighbouring Uganda, which is already hosting the largest refugee population in Africa. This funding will enable our humanitarian partners address the most urgent emergency needs, including supporting those newly displaced. In addition, funding has been allocated to Uganda to help the country address the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in its Karamoja region, where half a million people are in urgent need of food assistance.”

More than 500,000 people are in urgent need of food assistance, with around 100,000 children and pregnant and lactating women being acutely malnourished

The top-up amount brings the total funding for Uganda to €34 million (Ugx 130 billion) in 2022.

The security situation in the DRC has resulted in a large number of people seeking refuge in neighbouring Uganda, with more than 57,000 arriving since January 2022. Uganda already hosts the largest refugee population in Africa (1.5 million) and the third largest in the world.

The Karamoja area, in Uganda's northeast, is currently facing the devastating consequences of the drought affecting the Horn of Africa – often described as “the worst in a generation.”

More than 500,000 people are in urgent need of food assistance, with around 100,000 children and pregnant and lactating women being acutely malnourished.

The additional funding allocated by the EU will allow humanitarian partners to provide food and nutrition assistance, including immediate life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable. Of this latest additional EU funding, €2 million is earmarked for support action in Karamoja while €2 million will support the emergency in southwestern Uganda.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Delegation of the European Union to Uganda.

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