New Rwanda bill gives ministers power to disregard some human rights law

11 minutes ago
About sharing

By Becky Morton
BBC political reporter

A draft law, which aims to enable the government’s flagship Rwanda policy to go ahead, gives ministers the power to disregard some human rights law.

The Home Office said the bill, which will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, made clear in UK law Rwanda was a safe country for asylum seekers.

It comes after Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty with the east African country.

The treaty and bill are designed to address concerns of the Supreme Court.

Last month, the UK’s highest court ruled the plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda were unlawful.

The policy, which was first announced by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, aims to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats.

But it has been repeatedly delayed by legal challenges and no asylum seekers have been sent to Rwanda from the UK yet.

The bill, which must be voted on by Parliament, disapplies some sections of the Human Rights Act.

However, it does not go as far as some Conservative MPs on the right of the party would have liked.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and her supporters had called for it to override the entire Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, and all other international law.

A source close to Mrs Braverman said the bill was “fatally flawed” and would be “bogged down in the courts for months and months”.

“The prime minister has kept the ability for every single illegal migrant to make individual human rights claims against their removal and to then appeal those claims if they don’t succeed at first,” the source said.

“It is a further betrayal of Tory voters and the decent patriotic majority who want to see this insanity brought to an end.”

The draft legislation concedes that it may not be compatible with minimum human rights safeguards.

Legislation rarely goes before MPs with such a legal warning.

However, this is the second time in a year that the government has asked Parliament to vote for measures that might fall foul of the courts – the first instance being the controversial Illegal Migration Act that was heavily attacked in the House of Lords.

The warning in the new Rwanda bill means lawyers have told ministers the measures could still be legally challenged – and the Supreme Court could find them incompatible with human rights obligations and therefore unworkable.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta said the country would not be able to continue with the scheme “without lawful behaviour by the UK”.

He said: “It has always been important to both Rwanda and the UK that our rule of law partnership meets the highest standards of international law, and it places obligations on both the UK and Rwanda to act lawfully.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Through this new landmark emergency legislation, we will control our borders, deter people taking perilous journeys across the channel and end the continuous legal challenges filling our courts.”

Related Topics

More on this story

1 hour ago
3 hours ago
3 hours ago