On Tuesday, British Home Secretary James Cleverly landed in Rwanda to finalise a new agreement aimed at transferring asylum seekers to the African nation.
This initiative is crucial to the UK government’s migration reduction strategy and is being closely observed by other nations contemplating similar approaches.
The UK’s Supreme Court recently deemed the deportation scheme illegal, citing violations of international human rights laws incorporated into domestic legislation.
In response, the UK has been engaged in renegotiating its pact with Rwanda to establish a binding treaty, addressing the court’s concerns about expelling asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Mr Cleverly, now in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, is scheduled to meet with the country’s foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, to formally sign the revised agreement,
“Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together to tackle the global challenge of illegal migration,” Mr Cleverly is quoted by Reuters.
The UK’s strategy involves sending a significant number of asylum seekers, who arrived without permission, to Rwanda to discourage Channel crossings from Europe in small boats.
In return, Rwanda has received an initial payment of £140 million ($180 million), with the promise of additional funds to support the accommodation and care of deported individuals.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing substantial pressure to reduce net migration, particularly as it reached a record 745,000 last year.
The government is also grappling with the issue of asylum seekers paying people smugglers for perilous Channel crossings.
To further its goals, the UK government is planning to declare Rwanda a “safe country” through new legislation, aiming to preempt legal challenges against the proposed deportation flights.
The Supreme Court’s ruling against the government’s plan highlighted the risk of improperly assessing claims or returning refugees to countries where they could face persecution.
The court contended that the plan violated international commitments, including the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations’ Refugee Convention, and the Convention against Torture.
Critics, spanning opposition lawmakers, some Conservatives, church leaders, and the United Nations refugee agency, argue that the policy is flawed, a misuse of funds, morally questionable, and unlikely to succeed.
Additional reporting by Reuters.