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Rwanda plan 'fundamentally incompatible' with UK’s human rights obligations

February 12, 2024 at 9:49 am

Demonstrators hold placards as they protest against Britain’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, outside the High Court in London on June 13, 2022 [NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images]

The British government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is fundamentally incompatible with the country’s human rights obligations, according to a joint committee report released today.

“Measures intended to remove barriers to sending individuals to Rwanda, including mandating that courts treat Rwanda as a ‘safe’ country and limiting access to courts to appeal decisions, are incompatible with the UK’s human rights obligations,” warned MPs and peers from the cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The controversial bill aims to address the concerns of the UK Supreme Court, which ruled that the government’s original plan to send asylum seekers to the East African country was unlawful.

“The bill’s near total exclusion of judicial scrutiny seeks to undermine the constitutional role of the domestic courts in holding the executive to account,” said the report.

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned: “The Bill would erode protection for human rights provided by the Human Rights Act, contravene rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and fall short of the UK’s commitments under international treaties.

“The Bill places the UK’s hard-won reputation for human rights and the rule of law into jeopardy,” said Joanna Cherry, chair of the committee.

The Rwanda plan had been one of the most controversial plans of the government’s migration policy as it sparked international criticism and mass protests across the UK.

In January 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that tackling small boat crossings by irregular migrants across the English Channel is among five priorities of his government as more than 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK through that route in 2022.

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