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UK parliament committee launches inquiry into Rwanda-UK new treaty

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The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has launched an inquiry into the UK-Rwanda Agreement for the Provision of an Asylum Partnership. The inquiry will consider how the Agreement protects migrants relocated to Rwanda, and whether it deals with the concerns raised by the Supreme Court.

The inquiry comes after the UK’s parliament approved the UK’s new treaty with Rwanda that proved that Rwanda was a safe country for migrants. 

The British government won decisively after the August House passed the Rwanda Safety Bill, with 313 Members of Parliament voting in favor of the bill against 269 legislators who voted against it. At least 24 MPs abstained from voting but it did not stop the government from triumphing.

Following the ruling, PM Sunak said that they will now proceed to make it a law to allow flights to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda as a deterrent measure against illegal immigration.

Following on from the Committee’s 2022 report on the UK-Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding, the inquiry will focus on the details of the new treaty and how effective they might be. 

The Committee is seeking evidence on questions including whether the changes to the asylum partnership made by the Agreement are likely to meet the concerns raised by the Supreme Court. How strong and effective are the protections for persons relocated to Rwanda? Views of the enforcement mechanisms in the Agreement, and on the new asylum appeal body. Precedents for requiring that claims must be for asylum in a third country.

Lord Goldsmith, Chair of the International Agreements Committee, said: “With a new Bill now before Parliament setting out that Rwanda is a safe country where illegal migrants can be lawfully relocated, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee believes it is paramount to scrutinize whether the Agreement with Rwanda addresses the concerns raised by the Supreme Court about the Government’s Rwanda policy.

Britain had intended to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers who arrived on its shores without permission to Rwanda in a bid to deter migrants crossing the Channel from Europe in small boats. The plan has been closely watched by other countries considering similar policies.

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court last month ruled the flights to Rwanda would violate international human rights laws enshrined in domestic legislation.

Since then, Britain has been seeking to renegotiate its agreement with Rwanda to include a binding treaty that would not expel asylum seekers sent there by Britain – one of the court’s major concerns.

The court ruled the Rwanda policy unlawful, citing a risk that deported refugees would have their claims wrongly assessed or that they would be returned to their country of origin to face persecution.

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