New Rwanda asylum treaty deals with Supreme Court concerns, says James Cleverly


UK Home Secretary Addresses Supreme Court Concerns with New Rwanda Treaty

In response to the UK Supreme Court's recent ruling deeming the government's plan to send migrants to Rwanda as unlawful, Home Secretary James Cleverly has announced a new treaty with Rwanda. The court had expressed worries about potential human rights violations associated with the policy.

Cleverly emphasized that Rwanda has provided a "clear and unambiguous commitment to the safety of people who come here." The controversial policy is a key component of the government's strategy to discourage migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has identified "stopping the boats" as one of the top priorities for his government ahead of the upcoming general election. However, the Rwanda scheme, initially introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, has faced repeated delays due to legal challenges, and as of now, no asylum seekers have been sent to the African country.

The UK's highest court, the Supreme Court, rejected the policy, citing concerns about the Rwandan government's adherence to the principle of non-refoulement, an international law that prohibits returning asylum seekers to their home country if it poses a risk of harm.

Following the court's decision, Sunak pledged to work on a new treaty with Rwanda and announced plans for emergency legislation to affirm the safety of the country. The legislation is anticipated to be presented in Parliament this week.

As the government addresses legal obstacles, the future of the Rwanda scheme remains uncertain, with ongoing debates surrounding its effectiveness and compliance with international human rights standards.

Court concerns

UK and Rwanda Sign Binding Treaty to Address Asylum Policy Concerns

The UK's Home Secretary, James Cleverly, made a significant move by traveling to Kigali and signing a new legally binding treaty with Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta, on Tuesday. This development follows the UK Supreme Court's recent ruling deeming the government's asylum policy, involving the relocation of migrants to Rwanda, as unlawful.

Cleverly, the third home secretary to visit Rwanda after Priti Patel and Suella Braverman, expressed confidence in the new treaty's ability to address concerns raised by the Supreme Court. The British government asserts that the treaty guarantees the safety of individuals relocated to Rwanda, ensuring they are not at risk of being sent back to a country where their life or freedom would be in jeopardy.

Key provisions of the treaty include the establishment of a new appeal body comprising judges with asylum expertise from various countries to hear individual cases. Additionally, Rwanda's asylum system will be subject to monitoring by an independent committee, with strengthened powers to enforce the treaty. The Monitoring Committee will develop a complaint system to enable relocated individuals and their lawyers to lodge grievances.

During a press conference, Cleverly reiterated Rwanda's status as a safe country and stated that the treaty comprehensively addresses the concerns raised by the Supreme Court. He indicated that the treaty's provisions would soon be reflected in domestic legislation.

The controversial asylum policy has incurred a cost of at least £140 million for the UK government. However, Cleverly clarified that no additional funds were paid to Rwanda for the new treaty.

Cleverly expressed confidence in Rwanda's track record in handling asylum cases and emphasized the need to implement the scheme quickly. He defended Rwanda's reputation for humanity, expressing discomfort with the criticism leveled against the country.

Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta, suggested that "internal UK politics" might have played a role in the initial blockage of the asylum policy. While acknowledging room for improvement in any system, Biruta highlighted the treaty's aim to enhance Rwanda's asylum system for fairness and transparency.

Tory disquiet

Conservative MPs Urge Sunak to Address Surging Migrant Crossings

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak from within his own party, as Conservative MPs on the right push for decisive action to curb migrant boat crossings. The call comes in response to a record-breaking 45,700 individuals crossing the Channel to reach the UK in 2022, marking the highest figure on record.

In the coming days, the government plans to introduce new legislation aimed at preventing further legal challenges to its Rwanda relocation plan. However, the One Nation Caucus of Conservative MPs has voiced apprehensions about the proposed legislation, expressing concerns that it may disregard both UK and international human rights laws.

A faction within the Tory party advocates for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), an international treaty. They argue that such a move would shield the Rwanda scheme from legal challenges. Nevertheless, senior Tory MP Damian Green emphasizes the significance of honoring treaties, viewing them as fundamental to safeguarding the UK's democratic legacy.

Meanwhile, the UK government faces additional pressure to reduce net migration, which surged to a historic high of 745,000 in 2022. The Conservative party has long pledged to cut net migration since assuming power in 2010, echoing the "take back control" sentiment following the Brexit vote.

In a recent announcement, Home Secretary James Cleverly revealed a series of measures, including raising the minimum salary required for skilled overseas workers from £26,200 to £38,700. Cleverly argued that, as a result, around 300,000 eligible individuals would no longer be able to come to the UK.

As debates within the Conservative party intensify, the government grapples with the complex challenge of balancing immigration policies with human rights considerations and the broader impact on the UK's democratic principles.