A panel of British MPs has concluded that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s immigration policy violates the Human Rights Act
A UK parliamentary committee has warned the British government against deporting immigrants to Rwanda, saying a draft bill promoting the East African nation as a safe haven is incompatible with human rights obligations and is a breach of international law.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights, which includes members from both the ruling and opposition parties, made the comment in a report published on Monday after reviewing the Safety of Rwanda Bill. The draft law, introduced last December after Britain signed a new treaty with Kigali, seeks to address the UK Supreme Court ruling that the initial plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way flight to Rwanda is unlawful. The court stated in its November decision that the African country is unsafe for refugees.
“This bill is designed to remove vital safeguards against persecution and human rights abuses, including the fundamental right to access a court. Hostility to human rights is at its heart and no amendments can salvage it,” the group’s chair, Joanna Cherry, said.
The parliamentary watchdog is the latest to criticize Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s policy, which directs courts to treat Rwanda as a safe country. It also requires ministers to ignore the European Court of Human Rights’ emergency orders to temporarily halt flights to the East African country during the hearing of individual deportation appeals. While Conservative MPs seek to toughen up the bill to override laws that challenge the swift removal of illegal migrants crossing the English Channel, the House of Lords backed a motion last month urging parliament not to ratify it.
On Monday, the chair of the British Parliament’s human rights committee cautioned that implementing the policy “risks untold damage to the UK’s reputation as a proponent of human rights internationally.”
“If a policy is sound, it should be able to withstand judicial scrutiny, not run away from it,” the Scottish National Party lawmaker insisted.
In response, the Home Office insisted that the Rwanda plan is a “bold and innovative” initiative for stopping illegal migrant boats.
“Rwanda is clearly a safe country that cares deeply about supporting refugees. It hosts more than 135,000 asylum seekers,” it said in a statement cited by the Associated Press.
Britain has paid Rwanda at least £240 million ($305 million) under the disputed deal signed in April 2022, but no asylum seekers have been deported so far. Sunak insisted last week that his government would begin deporting immigrants to Rwanda before the UK’s next election, betting £1,000 ($1,250) during a TV interview.