Government attempts to push forward with unlawful Rwanda plan

7 December 2023

Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the UK, that the Government’s plan to remove people seeking asylum to Rwanda is unlawful, the Home Office has released their new treaty with Rwanda to push forward with these plans.

After spending hundreds of millions of pounds on this deal without removing a single person from the UK, the Government is clutching at straws to push through this legislation which they still cannot say aligns with our international human rights obligations.  

That’s because it does not. This new treaty would see people seeking asylum removed to Rwanda without having their claims processed in the UK. Given that the Supreme Court has rejected the original bill on the basis of the risk of refoulment (returning people fleeing persecution to their country of origin), this new treaty attempts to state that Rwanda is a safe country and promises that no one would be removed from Rwanda to their country of origin.  

Stating something does not make it true; only in 2018, 12 people seeking asylum were shot dead by Rwandan police forces for protesting poor conditions. Last year, over 6000 people fled Rwanda for fear of persecution, war or torture. In 2021, Human Rights Watch reported on the ill-treatment of gay and transgender people, who were rounded up and arbitrarily detained by Rwandan authorities before being held in overcrowded rooms and suffering frequent beatings. With ministers already stating that some individuals may be readmitted to the UK where their human rights have been breached in Rwanda, it seems clear that the deal still faces many practical challenges and cannot ensure refugees are adequately protected in line with international human rights legislation. 

With this new treaty, the government is continuing its attempts to undermine human rights principles, putting its obligations to protect refugees out of sight and out of mind. What is needed are resources to address the existing asylum backlog in the UK, within which many remain in limbo and unable to rebuild their lives after fleeing conflict, persecution, and torture. We continue to call on MPs to reject any new legislation related to the Rwanda deal and call on the UK government to uphold the human rights of those who have come to the UK in search of safety. 


Sarah (Volunteer) and Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead)

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