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LABOUR accused the Tories of making up policies “for the sake of headlines” today after Ghana denied it was in talks with Britain to open offshore asylum processing centres.
The country, alongside Rwanda, had reportedly been approached by British ministers about plans to hold asylum-seekers while their claims are processed.
But the Ghanian government said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration wishes to state categorically that Ghana has not engaged with the UK on any such plan and does not intend to consider any such operation in the future.”
This is not the first time Ghanian officials have rebuked British news reports on this issue, following a similar incident in September 2021.
“The position of the government has not changed, and the ministry advises that any publication that suggests otherwise be ignored,” the statement adds.
Reports were based on a Whitehall briefing suggesting talks had been opened with the two African nations.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the government of “making things up for the sake of headlines,” adding that it was an “embarrassment to our country and disrespectful to Ghana.”
“Time and again the Home Office has been told that offshore processing is incredibly costly, impractical and damaging and it’s clear none of the countries they have approached have agreed,” she added.
Provisions that would open the door to the creation of offshore processing sites are being introduced through the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.
It came as the joint committee on human rights, which has been scrutinising the Bill, warned today that the proposed legislation is “at odds with our human rights obligations and should be amended.”
Proposals that would see asylum-seekers treated differently due to their means of entry into the country “would be inconsistent with the Refugee Convention and potentially a discriminatory breach of human rights,” it said.
The changes also risk exacerbating the already unacceptable backlog in asylum claims, the committee warned.
The committee’s deputy chairman and SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: “Fundamentally this Bill increases the likelihood that the UK turns its back on people it should be helping. This would be wrong and the government needs to rethink these proposals.”
A government spokesperson said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill will stop the abuse of our system and give victims who have been exploited the support they need to rebuild their lives.”
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