No evidence Rwanda is yet a safe country for asylum seekers

No evidence has been provided to demonstrate that Rwanda is yet a safe country to send asylum seekers to, the Law Society of England and Wales has warned.

The Law Society remains seriously concerned that the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill may be incompatible with the UK’s international obligations.

The bill, which reaches report stage in the House of Lords today (4 March), also sets a dangerous legal and constitutional precedent by legislating to overturn an evidence-based finding of fact by UK courts.

We contend that very significant amendments to the bill are needed. The bill, as it currently stands, is constitutionally improper, bars access to justice and is unworkable.

“The bill would state that Parliament judges Rwanda to be a safe country immediately and forever. But there is no evidence of this,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“The UK government says that the existence of the December 2023 Rwanda Treaty is sufficient – but we are deeply concerned that the government does not know whether the safeguards in the treaty are yet operational, or even when they will be.

“These questions are imperative for Parliament to be able to consider whether Rwanda is a safe country and conclusively deem it to be one in law.

“The new treaty stipulates that no one will be removed to any country other than back to the UK, and that an ‘effective system’ for preventing refoulement will be set up.

“But during debates in the House of Lords, government ministers were not able to say what the effective system is and whether it has been or even will be set up before the bill comes into force.

“Ministers were also unable to confirm whether the Rwandan asylum law needed to implement the treaty has been drafted or that it will be in place when the Rwanda Bill comes into force.”

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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