The Rwanda Bill has now passed its third reading in the House of Commons.
The legislation will go to the House of Lords towards the end of January.
We support a joint briefing from Freedom from Torture and The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA), which urges the House to continue to oppose the Bill at each stage.
The highest court in the land has ruled that Rwanda is not a safe place to send people seeking protection.
Rather than investing money and resources in a fair and efficient asylum system, the Government is continuing to pursue this cruel, unworkable and unlawful policy.
The Rwanda Bill:
- Breaches the European Convention on Human Rights
- Reverses the Supreme Court’s assessment of the risk of harm in Rwanda, without addressing concerns about the Rwandan asylum system.
- Disapplies treaties that the UK is bound by internationally – setting a poor precedent and making the UK an unreliable international partner.
- Threatens the UK’s role as a global leader in championing the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
This Bill, which reinforces the worst elements of the Illegal Migration Act, would place the United Kingdom at risk of breaching international obligations laid out in:
- The European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’)
- The 1951 Refugee Convention, and its 1967 Protocol
- The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (‘UNCAT’)
- The 1966 UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’)
- The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
It also places the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Action against Trafficking at risk, given that victims of modern slavery and trafficking are among those threatened with removal to Rwanda.
The UK’s Supreme Court unanimously decided that individuals sent to Rwanda would face a real risk of ill-treatment. No legislative sleight of hand can change this.
Safety in Rwanda
If Rwanda was truly safe, the Bill would not need to exclude Rwandan nationals from its scope,
The Bill and the Treaty do not address issues raised by the Supreme Court, including:
- A need to promote understanding of obligations under the Refugee Convention, which have not developed in the years that Rwanda has hosted refugees. For example, between 2020 and 2022, UNHCR found that Afghan, Syrian and Yemeni asylum claims had a 100% rejection rate in Rwanda.
- A need to improve Rwanda’s poor human rights record, or the profound concerns which remain. The most serious incident occurred in 2018, when Rwandan police fired live ammunition at refugees protesting over cuts to food rations, killing at least 12 people.
What we’d like to see
The Rwanda Bill scrapped in its entirety.
The government focus instead on long-term solutions and invest in a fair and efficient asylum system that works for everyone. Find out more about our campaign for a better plan.
People seeking protection being treated with compassion and dignity.
- A poll run by Together with Refugees showed that 80% of people in the UK want an asylum system that is well managed, fair and compassionate.
- Only 18% of the British public think the government’s approach to the asylum system is working well
We are raising money for refugees in urgent need. Find out more about our winter appeal.