Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a news conference at Downing Street regarding the plan to ‘stop the boats’ and illegal immigration to Britain, December 7, 2023. REUTERS
One of Rishi Sunak’s few successes so far has been his success in calming the divisions within the British Conservative Party, which led to the ouster of three prime ministers in three years: Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. But this fragile unity is once again threatened, as the leader tries to relaunch his migration strategy. The latter is contested by the right of the party, who do not find it radical enough, some putting forward substantive reasons, others seeming driven by obvious personal ambitions.
On Thursday 7 December, Mr Sunak defended a new emergency bill. Called “Rwanda security”, it aims to put back on track the agreement for the transfer of asylum seekers who arrived in the United Kingdom in « small boats » across the Channel to Rwanda. This agreement was declared illegal on November 15 by the British Supreme Court.
The highest court in the country considered that this partnership, signed in the spring of 2022 between London and Kigali but never yet implemented due to multiple legal appeals, presented a risk ” real “ of refoulement of asylum seekers to their country of origin by the Rwandan authorities, even if their request for protection was justified. However, the United Kingdom adheres to the principle of non-refoulement, which is enshrined in its national law and in international treaties to which the country is a signatory: the United Nations Convention on Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights. .
The emergency bill states that for the British Parliament, Rwanda is safe with regard to asylum, that is to say that asylum seekers and refugees are treated there in compliance with international conventions. According to the text, no one has the right to contest this “safe” character of the African Great Lakes country: neither politicians, nor civil servants, nor British judges… It therefore contradicts a fact established by the Court supreme – the risk of refoulement – in order to neutralize legal recourse to avoid deportations.
Read also: The United Kingdom signs a new treaty with Rwanda to toughen its migration policy
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The text completes a treaty signed Tuesday, December 5, between James Cleverly, the British Interior Minister, and the head of Rwandan diplomacy, Vincent Biruta, in which Rwanda undertakes not to turn back any asylum seekers who have arrived since the United Kingdom. Either they will receive refugee status in Rwanda, or they will obtain the right to stay in the country. This treaty and the Rwanda bill “respond point by point to the decision of the Supreme Court”, assured Rishi Sunak during a press conference on Thursday. “ I am confident that the law will be effective and that it is the only possible approach,” added the Prime Minister.
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