Proper scrutiny needed of Rwanda treaty

The government’s treaty with Rwanda fails to address the Supreme Court’s concerns, the Law Society has warned ahead of a House of Lords debate on Monday (22 January).

Peers are set to consider delaying ratification of the treaty, following a report by the House of Lords International Agreements Committee which found that the treaty is unlikely to change the position in Rwanda in the short to medium term.*

“We are pleased to see the Committee shares our view that the conclusion of the Rwanda treaty in itself does not make Rwanda a safe country to send asylum seekers to,” said Law Society of England and Wales vice president Richard Atkinson.

“The Supreme Court ruled that the policy is unlawful on a point of fact, based on a core and well-established principle of international and domestic law, non-refoulement.

“It is a fact that Rwanda is not considered a safe country given the high risk of refoulement of asylum seekers.

“The signing of a treaty does not change this finding of fact.

“We welcome the Committee’s recommendation that further evidence should be presented to Parliament outlining the steps that have been taken to implement the treaty, and for further debate and scrutiny before ratification of the treaty.

“The government must make time for full debates in Parliament to ensure the treaty’s provisions are properly scrutinised before they are allowed to come into force.

“There are serious questions about the effectiveness of the treaty which we urge the House of Lords to probe carefully.

“At the very least, peers should endorse the Committee’s recommendation that ratification be delayed until the mechanisms and safeguards in the treaty have been fully implemented.”

Notes to editors

• * Read the report here

• Contact the Press Office for a copy of our parliamentary briefing on the Rwanda treaty.

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