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The Rwandan bill explains: what is the controversial policy and what happens next?

The Rwandan bill explains: what is the controversial policy and what happens next?


In 2022, after the number of migrants crossing the Channel to reach the United Kingdom increased sharply, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the government would send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, South Africa. ballast.

The plan was that the government in Kigali would decide on their claims and those who were successful would be granted asylum in this country rather than the UK.

In June of the same year, the first deportation flight to Rwanda was canceled just minutes before takeoff, following a ruling by a judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

A group of people suspected of being migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force (PA) ship (PA wire)

A year later, the Court of Appeal ruled the policy illegal, with judges concluding that Rwanda was not a safe country.

Then, last November, the Supreme Court, the UK's highest court, also ruled that this policy was unlawful and could not be continued as is, concluding that there was a real risk that genuine refugees sent to the Rwanda could be returned to their country of origin, where they would be returned. face mistreatment.

In response, ministers published the bill and a treaty with Rwanda, both of which aim to prevent further legal challenges, but which the Lords opposed from the start.

The Rwanda Security (Asylum and Immigration) Bill requires judges to consider the country safe and sets aside sections of the Human Rights Act and international law.

The legislation would also give ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions.

Asylum seekers can still challenge deportation based on their individual circumstances, such as serious mental or physical problems, or if they are victims of torture or have suicidal tendencies.

But they would not be able to make a generic argument that removal to Rwanda presented a general risk of refoulement when asylum seekers are deported and sent back to a country where they face persecution.

Last year, then-Interior Minister Suella Braverman and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta signed an agreement in Kigali. (Pennsylvania)

Right-wing Conservative Party MPs are prioritizing national sovereignty and the desire to stop the boats, which was one of five priorities declared by Rishi Sunak when he became prime minister.

They say reducing immigration, and in particular ending the scenes of asylum seekers arriving on Kent's beaches, will reduce Labour's lead, and they want everything done to achieve this.

They point out that the Rwandan government is committed to ensuring that migrants sent there will be granted the right to live in the country with the prospect of obtaining citizenship.

But those on the left of the party emphasize the rule of law and the UK's international obligations such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Supporters of Mr Sunak's policies say the UK should leave the convention.

However, another obstacle for them is that the UK has signed the Refugee Convention, which states that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats.

In February this year, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights said the Rwandan bill was fundamentally inconsistent with the UK's human rights obligations and would flout the right international.

The Lords on Wednesday resisted the government's attempts to ignore court rulings and insisted on amendments to the bill, including one aimed at restoring the jurisdiction of national courts over Rwanda's security and allowing judges to intervene. This means the bill will now return to the Commons.

Peers also renewed their call for the bill to take due account of key international and domestic laws, including human rights and modern slavery legislation.

Afghan troops who worked with British armed forces should be exempt, Lords have argued

Furthermore, they supported the demand that Rwanda cannot be treated as a safe country until an independent monitoring body has verified that the protections contained in the treaty are fully implemented and remain in force. place.

The Lords also voted that those working with the British military or government overseas, such as Afghan interpreters, should be exempt from removal.

However, the legislation still has a strong chance of passing within a few days.

Ministers reiterated that they remained confident that deportation flights would take off this spring, as Mr Sunak has long promised, although Treasury Minister Laura Trott said there were many definitions of spring.

Under the new legislation, migrants will have seven days to appeal any decision to send them to Rwanda. The Department of Justice will be obliged to provide them with lawyers specializing in immigration law.

The appeal process could last up to nine days. The government would expect around one in five cases to be appealed to a higher immigration court, which must rule on each case within 22 days.

150 additional judges and dozens of duty lawyers are being recruited in order to meet deadlines, according to The telegraph.

The entire process could take between four and eight weeks. If the bill passes, it would mean that in theory the first flights could take off in early June.

But it is possible that the European Court of Human Rights could again prove a stumbling block if it orders flights to be blocked, as it did in 2022, sending the government's plans back to square one.




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