Golden opportunity for parliament to improve Rwanda Bill

Members of Parliament (MPs) have a golden opportunity on Monday (15 April) to make crucial changes to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill as it returns to the House of Commons after Easter recess.

Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson said: “The Rwanda Bill is an affront to British constitutional principles.

“It is one of the most damaging pieces of legislation to the rule of law in recent history. It corrodes the independence of the judiciary, removes basic human rights and could do great harm to the UK’s international standing.

“The Law Society has repeatedly raised concerns about the implications of the Bill for the UK’s constitutional balance of powers, as well as fears concerning the failure to protect some of the most vulnerable.

“The Bill also aims to use law to change fact, designating Rwanda to be a ‘safe’ country before safeguards contained in the Rwanda Treaty have been implemented.

“The House of Lords has sought to address some of these concerns. Their amendments remove some of the Bill’s worst excesses and reflect the safeguards the government has agreed.

“If the Rwanda Bill does proceed, it must do so with the least damage possible. We cannot sacrifice our values, constitutional integrity and international reputation for short-term political gain.

“If the Bill is passed with no amendments, we will be in the position that removals are legal under our domestic law but are in breach of international law. The UK cannot dodge its international obligations simply by passing domestic legislation that contradicts international law. Doing so risks the UK’s international reputation and standing.

“MPs who care about British principles of the rule of law, judicial independence and the rules-based international order have a golden opportunity to push the government to consider the concerns of the Lords and look to improve the Bill in these final ‘ping-pong’ stages.”

Nick Emmerson concluded: “The Rwanda plan is in a state of disarray. The number of people who would be removed under the government’s agreement with Rwanda would not make a dent in the mounting backlogs of asylum cases.

“More people will be left in limbo, as Rwanda only has capacity for a very small percentage of the backlog, while asylum claims cannot be considered in the UK.

“Ultimately, Britain should have an asylum system that is fit for purpose. It should make fair asylum decisions – which have a profound impact on people’s lives – in line with our international obligations and commitments.”

Notes to editors

The Law Society’s Parliamentary Briefing is available in full upon request.

Find out about the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Find out about the UK-Rwanda Treaty

Read the latest asylum statistics

About the Law Society

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Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928 | Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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