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British Home Secretary James Cleverley will sign a new treaty with Rwanda on Tuesday in an attempt to overcome legal obstacles to the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to the African country.
The new treaty was intended to resolve the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that the Rwanda policy was illegal and pave the way for Cleverley to introduce “emergency legislation” at Westminster in an attempt to reinstate the Rwanda policy.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled last month that asylum seekers deported to the East African country face a real risk of being returned to their home countries without their claims being properly assessed.
The new UK-Rwanda treaty is a legal upgrade of the existing memorandum of understanding between the two countries and aims to address the concerns of the Supreme Court.
Cleverley, who flew to Kigali on Monday evening, said: “We know Rwanda is a safe country and we are stepping up this partnership to stop the boats and save lives.
“The Supreme Court recognizes that changes may be made in the future to address the conclusions they reached – and that is what we are doing together through this new, internationally recognized treaty agreement.”
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper dismissed the move as “just a stunt”.
Signing a treaty with Rwanda will not in itself restart the UK government’s troubled plans to outsource asylum seekers: it is likely to be the start of a new political and legal row.
Smart could introduce legislation in the House of Commons as early as this week, which he said would enable Parliament to legally declare Rwanda “safe”. That claim is expected to be challenged in court.
Conservative MPs are also divided over whether new legislation should include a controversial “notwithstanding” clause that would remove the UK’s international and domestic human rights obligations in relation to its Rwanda policy.
Last week, more than 20 Conservative MPs wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warning they would not support immigration secretary Robert Jenrick and former home secretary Suela Braver This initiative was promoted by Suella Braverman.
The Home Office said Cleverley will meet Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta during a visit to Kigali, where the treaty will be signed. It insisted that other countries including Austria, Italy, Germany and Denmark were also exploring the principle of sending migrants to “safe third countries”.
Last year, Britain and Rwanda signed what Sunak called a landmark “migration and economic development partnership” that would see people arriving in the UK by small boats resettled to Rwanda.
The UK has paid £140m to the Rwandan government for the scheme, most of which has been used for development funding.
But the policy has been hampered by a series of legal challenges and is highly contentious. One cabinet minister said: “There is no way anyone will be flown to Rwanda during the election period.”
Cooper said the government sent more home ministers to Rwanda than asylum seekers.
“This is the third Home Secretary in less than two years to go to Rwanda with another checkbook, they have already spent £140m, more this year, they won’t tell us how much and more is promised next year ,” she told Sky News.
She added: “This failed scheme will still only address a few hundred people, whereas last week more than 1,000 people came because they were not there for criminal gangs.” . They make huge amounts of money from these crossings. “