In November 2023, the Supreme Court held in an unanimous decision that the Government’s previous Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding was unlawful for several reasons; most notably that it risked refoulement (asylum-seekers being directly/ indirectly returned to their home country before their asylum claim is properly considered) found in the Refugee Convention, Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) and a number of other international legal instruments and domestic law.
In response, the UK Government agreed a new treaty with Rwanda which was published in December 2023. JUSTICE, alongside the Immigration Lawyers Practitioners Association (‘ILPA’) and Freedom from Torture, briefed Parliamentarians on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill ahead of its Second Reading in the House of Commons.
JUSTICE is opposed to this legislation on the following basis:
- It legislates a legal fiction, reversing the Supreme Court’s factual assessment of the risk of harm in Rwanda, without properly addressing the Court’s concerns about the Rwandan asylum system and ousting our domestic courts’ jurisdiction to consider the issue; it is an abuse of Parliament’s role.
- It disapplies, domestically, treaties that the UK remains bound by internationally, showing bad faith, setting poor precedent and making the UK an unreliable partner internationally.
- It breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), when commitment to that is a part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland settlement, as well as the UK’s treaty arrangements with the EU.
- It is an attack on judicial scrutiny, undermining our constitutional separation of powers.
- It threatens the UK’s role as a global leader in championing the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
In December 2023, JUSTICE, along with the Immigration Lawyers Practitioners Association (‘ILPA’), submitted evidence to the House of Lords International Agreements Committee on the UK-Rwanda asylum partnership treaty.
JUSTICE are continuing to brief on the Bill in both the Commons and the Lords.
House of Commons Second Reading
Joint Briefing with ILPA and Freedom from Torture (December 2023)
House of Lords International Agreements Committee
JUSTICE and ILPA’s full submissions
House of Lords Second Reading
Joint Briefing with ILPA and Freedom from Torture (January 2024)
House of Lords Committee Stage
Joint Briefing with ILPA, Liberty, and Amnesty International UK (February 2024)