‘Safety of Rwanda’ Bill

13 May 2024: Irish Times: UK Rwanda deportation law provisions should not apply in Northern Ireland, judge rules

High Court finds measures in UK government’s legislation undermine human rights protections guaranteed under post-Brexit arrangements

Mr Justice Humphreys delivered judgment at Belfast High Court on Monday in two challenges against the Act that focused on the peace process human rights protections guaranteed by the Windsor Framework.

The judge found that several elements of the Act do cause a “significant” diminution of the rights enjoyed by asylum seekers residing in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Read more: https://www.irishtimes.com/crime-law/courts/2024/05/13/provisions-of-uk-illegal-migration-act-should-be-disapplied-in-northern-ireland/

23 April 2024: Guardian: Council of Europe human rights watchdog condemns UK’s Rwanda bill

Rights commissioner expresses grave concern after Rishi Sunak’s asylum policy passes parliamentary stages

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/23/council-of-europe-human-rights-watchdog-condemns-uk-rwanda-scheme

Guardian: UK passes bill to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Lawyers prepare for legal battles on behalf of individual asylum seekers challenging removal to east Africa

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/22/rwanda-deportations-bill-passes-parliament-sunak

Hansard: Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Debate in the Houses of Commons and Lords as the Bill was going through Parliament on 22 April 2024

House of Commons: Consideration of the Lords message, 4.15pm to 5.30pm: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2024-04-22/debates/7DC010C7-A0EF-4165-B09E-86BB276B00C5/SafetyOfRwanda(AsylumAndImmigration)Bill

House of Lords: 7.15pm – 8.57pm: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2024-04-22/debates/C6B3ACCA-CD05-4675-8026-6857AC19F5E0/SafetyOfRwanda(AsylumAndImmigration)Bill

House of Commons: 9.56pm to 10.48pm: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2024-04-22/debates/C6B3ACCA-CD05-4675-8026-6857AC19F5E0/SafetyOfRwanda(AsylumAndImmigration)Bill

House of Lords 11.45pm to 12.08am: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2024-04-22/debates/C6B3ACCA-CD05-4675-8026-6857AC19F5E0/SafetyOfRwanda(AsylumAndImmigration)Bill


From the Lords: Lord Coaker (Lab): I am sorry to reiterate this point about process, but it is really important. I do not know how many times, but I have said numerous times from the Front Bench that we will not block the Bill, as have my noble friends Lord Kennedy and Lady Smith, the leader of our party in this place. Yet we see consistently from the Prime Minister, including today, claims that Labour Peers in this place seek to block the Bill. I hope—I am not sure—that noble Lords opposite will come to this side of the House and that we will go to that side. If that happens, I hope that, when we put forward various pieces of legislation to do with trade union rights, for example, and all the other Bills that we have suggested, noble Lords will remember that the role of the House of Lords in those circumstances will be to challenge the Labour Government who I hope will come into place but not seek to block or undermine the elected will of the people. That is not what we have sought to do.

18 April 2024: Politico: LAST NIGHT IN THE LORDS

WE GO AGAIN: The Rwanda Bill will go to a fourth round of parliamentary ping-pong next week, after the House of Lords once again refused to yield on Sunak’s small boats legislation. The Lords delivered an unexpected double defeat to the government on Wednesday night as a coalition of Labour, Lib Dem and crossbench peers blocked the plan for a third time.

Send it back: Peers have sent two amendments back to the Commons, including one which calls for an independent body to verify Rwanda as a safe country.  This in contrast with the government’s bill, which unilaterally declares Rwanda as safe regardless of any court rulings, facts, or other inconveniences. The other amendment passed by the Lords calls for exemptions to the small boats policy for people who have helped Britain’s armed forces, such as Afghan interpreters. The BBC has a write-up of Wednesday night’s votes. 

Finger pointing: Home Secretary James Cleverly said it had been a “politically cynical effort” by Labour and the Lib Dems to block the bill in the Lords again. Shadow Home Office Minister Stephen Kinnock shot back that “this is their mess, and they have no idea how to solve it.”

Read more here: https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/london-playbook/this-is-all-quite-alarming/

Shameful …

Updated 15 April 2024: Guardian: Sunak to give Rwanda £50m if deportation bill passed into law

MPs voted through plans on Monday and bill is expected to become law within days

Rajeev Syal Home affairs editorMon 15 Apr 2024 22.51 BSTShare

Rishi Sunak will hand over £50m to Rwanda as soon as his flagship deportation bill is passed into law, it emerged on Monday.

On Monday night, MPs voted through plans to forcibly send asylum seekers to east Africa if they arrived in the UK via small boats. The bill, one of the most controversial pieces of legislation passed in decades, is expected to pass into law at some point this week after further criticisms and amendments in the Lords.

It comes after the number of people travelling by small boat to seek asylum in the UK hit a new daily record in 2024 of 534 people on Sunday. The deal will cost UK taxpayers about £1.8m for each asylum seeker, according to Whitehall’s official auditor, although no one has so far been deported.

Appearing before the public accounts committee, Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office’s permanent secretary, said ministers would hand over the payment to the Rwandan government “as soon as we have royal assent”.

The safety of Rwanda bill, which seeks to limit legal challenges by asylum seekers selected for deportation, was brought forward after Rwanda was ruled to be unsafe for asylum seekers by the supreme court.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/15/sunak-to-give-rwanda-50m-if-deportation-bill-passed-into-law

A very interesting read, this is just a small extract:

Monday 15 April 2024: Transcript: Public Accounts Committee: Oral evidence: Asylum Accommodation and UK-Rwanda partnership, HC 639

Q54            Tim Loughton: This is quite an important number, isn’t it? It is a growing number, and it can only really be growing. Since the terms of the Illegal Migration Act came in, where anybody has arrived in a boat or from another safe third country, the Government have a duty to remove them without assessing asylum claims—with a few exceptions, as I think you have demonstrated before, Mr Hobbs. Is that right?

Dan Hobbs: Correct, although the duty has not been commenced, so the duty does not apply. It is set out in the legislation, but that piece of the legislation has yet to be commenced.

Q55            Tim Loughton: So you do not have a duty to remove anybody still arriving on a boat now?

Dan Hobbs: They are inadmissible under the Nationality and Borders Act. The duty to remove measure under the Illegal Migration Act has not yet been commenced.

Q56            Tim Loughton: So that figure of 30,000 or whatever, and the now approximately 6,200 who have come across the Channel in 2024, including over 500 over the weekend: we do not have a duty to remove them as it stands, and they could apply for asylum?

Dan Hobbs: The duty to remove is not in place, but they are inadmissible under the terms of the Nationality and Borders Act. They are already inadmissible to the UK asylum system and are therefore pending relocation. Their asylum claim is not admitted unless they fall under one of the exemptions. The duty on the Secretary of State to remove them has yet to commence.

Q57            Tim Loughton: And that figure is likely to be in excess of roughly 30,000, we think, but you do not have the exact number?

Dan Hobbs: Broadly, since 7 March.

Q58            Tim Loughton: Mr Ridley, do you have the exact number?

Simon Ridley: The number that was last published is just over 33,000, and we will publish the next statistics in May.

Q59            Tim Loughton: How old is that 33,000?

Simon Ridley: We published it on 31 December.

Tim Loughton: So it was 33,000—

Simon Ridley: Up to 28 December.

Q60            Tim Loughton: At the end of ’23, to which we can add at least 6,200 who we know have come across in boats. In total, we are talking about a figure that is probably now in excess of 40,000.

Simon Ridley: We will publish it in our next statistics in May.

Q61            Chair: Just to be clear, are they quarterly figures published just after the quarter?

Simon Ridley: Yes, we publish them in our Home Office stats every quarter.

Q62            Tim Loughton: But it is not beyond the bounds of rationality that we are looking at a figure of 40,000-plus. As it stands, they cannot apply for asylum and the Home Secretary is not yet obliged to remove them, so they are entirely in limbo.

Dan Hobbs: Correct. They are pending relocation at this time.

Q63            Tim Loughton: Which is effectively limbo, is it not?

Dan Hobbs: They are inadmissible under the Nationality and Borders Act.

Q64            Tim Loughton: They have no status in the UK and the Home Secretary is not yet obliged to remove them, so they are in limbo—I think that is how most people would describe them.

What is going to happen to them? If we now have 40,000 people who we are looking to remove—of whom a great number may be removed to countries that do not accept them, otherwise they might have been removed under other criteria already—that is a lot of additional seats on the planes to Rwanda when they start, isn’t it? Or is something else going to affect their status?

Dan Hobbs: Under the terms of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, it goes to the arrivals after 7 March last year. The inadmissibility, once commenced, and the duty will apply to them, so they will fall under the current terms of the Act to be relocated to Rwanda.

Q65            Chair: All of them?

Dan Hobbs: Under the current legislation, that is the proposal: Rwanda, or another safe third country, as provided for in the legislation.

Q66            Tim Loughton: I think the more concise answer to my question is yes.

We have 40,000 people in limbo. What will happen to them when the duty of the Home Secretary is effective? How will we remove them if they are going to countries that will not receive them, which we know a large number will be? We have had discussions about those countries before. Or are you anticipating that the 40,000 and growing will be on flights to Rwanda at some stage?

Dan Hobbs: Under the terms of the Act and the existing legislation, they are inadmissible to our system, so they will fall for relocation to a safe third country, including Rwanda, which is our—

Q67            Tim Loughton: With respect, Mr Hobbs, you have said that several times. What is going to happen to them?

Dan Hobbs: They will be treated under the legislation once it’s commenced.

Q68            Tim Loughton: And what is going to happen to them, practically? Where, practically, are the 40,000 people going to go?

Dan Hobbs: While they are in the UK, if they were otherwise destitute they are provided with accommodation and support. Once commenced, they will then be part of the workflow to go through the provisions set out in the Illegal Migration Act 2023 that allow them to bring claims, whether it would be on the basis of imminent, serious and irreversible harm if they were transferred to Rwanda, and then they go through that process.

Q69            Tim Loughton: With respect, we understand the process; what we don’t understand is the solution. Permanent secretary, is it therefore possible, if not probable, that all or a large part of that 40,000 may be subject to some form of amnesty, because practically you just can’t remove them?

Sir Matthew Rycroft: The Government are not planning to do that, Mr Loughton; the Government are planning to operationalise the Safety of Rwanda Bill as soon as there is Royal Assent, which is imminent, probably. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary will be setting out essentially the answer to your question, which is what steps are required in order to get the first flights off to Rwanda. The cohorts on those flights will be from that group of people.

Q70            Tim Loughton: Right. But it is 40,000, and the Home Office is not anticipating anything like 40,000 in the near future. They are going to remain in limbo, aren’t they, unless you grant an amnesty?

Sir Matthew Rycroft: The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary will set that out very soon.

Chair: I have to say that the Home Office never wants to talk about an amnesty, but I do recall that when I was first elected in 2005 there was something that was effectively an amnesty, for similar reasons. But I can see that Sir Matthew would not want to say that here in the room today.

Read more here: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/14612/html/

19 March 2024: Guardian: MPs vote to throw out amendments to Rwanda deportation bill

All 10 amendments made by peers voted down, giving much-needed boost to beleaguered PM

Rishi Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda took a step forward on Monday night after MPs voted overwhelmingly to throw out a series of amendments made to the Rwanda bill by the House of Lords.

MPs voted down all 10 amendments made by peers over the past few weeks to return the bill to the form in which it was initially passed by the Commons in January, giving a much-needed boost to the beleaguered prime minister.

The safety of Rwanda (asylum and immigration) bill, which is designed to overcome the supreme court’s objections to the plan, will return to the Lords later this week. Peers will then have to decide whether to reinsert their amendments and slow down the bill’s passage once more.

Speaking before the votes on Monday, Sunak said: “I am still committed to the timeline that I set out previously, which is we aim to get a flight off in the spring.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/mar/18/mps-vote-to-throw-out-amendments-to-rwanda-deportation-bill