New Rwanda asylum treaty signed by the Home Secretary

picture of shape

Today, Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has signed a new treaty with Rwanda to be able to go ahead with the controversial plans of sending asylum seekers and refugees, landing in Britain to Rwanda. This is the newest development in the government’s attempts to deter small boats from crossing the channel, stopping them as quickly as possible.

After the Supreme Court hearing last month, ruling the Rwanda plan unlawful, the Home Secretary assures critics that the treaty signed this afternoon addresses the Judges’ concerns.

This, combined with the new ‘Safety Rwanda Bill’, which was introduced to Parliament on Thursday and will be voted on today, are the worrying new developments in the Government’s Rwanda policy.

What was the original plan?

  • Anyone who arrived in the UK illegally would be sent to Rwanda, where they would be able to claim asylum or be granted refugee status.
  • There was also the option to apply to settle on other grounds, return home or seek asylum in a ‘third safe country’.
  • The 5-year trial policy did not specify numbers, but it was instead implied that it would be applied as a blanket policy.
  • This original agreement was accompanied by the promise of £120m in funding, which would provide accommodation and support to those who travelled there while their claims were being processed.

Why did the Supreme Court reject the initial Rwanda plan?

  • There was “evidence of a culture within Rwanda of, at best, inadequate understanding of Rwanda’s obligations under the Refugee Convention”.
  • The evidence “also goes some way to support the suggestion of a dismissive attitude towards asylum seekers from the Middle East and Afghanistan“.
  • “Significant changes need to be made to Rwanda’s asylum procedures… before there can be confidence that it will deal with asylum seekers… in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement” [i.e. not being sent to dangerous third countries or back to their home countries].
  • “The evidence establishes substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that asylum claims will not be determined properly“.

The UK government said that the amendments in this treaty address the judge’s concern

  • The treaty guarantees that people relocated to Rwanda are not at risk of being sent to a third country that would threaten their life or freedom. It said this assurance would be bolstered with a new appeal body.
  • The Home Office assures that those who are relocated to Rwanda will not be sent back to their home countries from where they are seeking asylum.
  • the work of an independent monitoring committee would be enhanced to ensure the treaty’s obligations were complied with.
  • cleverly believes there are ‘no reasons’ why migrants shouldn’t be heading to Rwanda from Britain in the coming months (despite evidence of human rights violations in Rwanda).
  • Cleverly claims Rwanda is a ‘safe country that cares deeply about supporting refugees’
  • Based on the government’s minimal level of concern for human rights protection, can we trust that these promises will be kept? Or is this just a way of satisfying the courts to push through a fundamentally dangerous and inhumane plan?

What does Paul have to say?

‘It is my view that it would be exceptionally unlikely that anyone will be removed to Rwanda, as the government wishes, before the election that is just around the corner.

The fixation with Rwanda and this scheme has more to do with pandering to the red meat voters rather than being a well-thought-out, humane and workable policy. For a start, there is simply no evidence that this will reduce migration to the United Kingdom by a single person. No studies have been done and no evidence produced. It would appear to be a speculative punt with over £140,000,000 of taxpayers’ money.

Is it lawful? Well, looking at what is being proposed – it seems to be more wishful thinking. The UK can say whatever it wishes about the state of affairs in Rwanda, but this does not make it fact. The domestic legislation that will be enacted will almost certainly be the subject of litigation, further putting any chances of a flight taking off before the next election in some serious doubt.’

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *