Three weeks after an earlier project was rejected, London and Rwanda signed a new treaty on Tuesday in Rwanda with the intention of reviving a contentious deal to send migrants who enter the UK illegally back to the East African nation.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta and British Home Secretary James Cleverly signed the updated agreement in the country’s capital, Kigali.
Following the British Supreme Court’s decision in mid-November to rule that the project was unlawful in its original form, the British government is making an effort to save this key component of its policy against unlawful immigration.
“We have pursued this partnership with the UK because we believe we have a role to play in this illegal immigration crisis”, at a press conference, Vincent Biruta gave assurances when James Cleverly said he had “immense admiration for the Rwandan government, which has received a lot of criticism”.
According to a statement from the British Home Office, the new treaty “responds directly to the findings of the Supreme Court and presents a new long-term solution”.
The 43-page document guarantees that migrants deported to Rwanda “will not be at risk of being returned to a country where their life or liberty would be threatened,” and it is considered “binding” under international law.
In addition, Rwandan government deputy spokesman Alain Mukuralinda emphasised during the press conference that “a joint tribunal with Rwandan and British judges in Kigali to ensure that migrants’ safety is guaranteed and that none of the migrants sent to Rwanda are deported back to their country” is part of the agreement. “And it will also ensure that all migrants’ complaints are listened to”, he said.
To “put an end to this merry-go-round,” Rishi Sunak continued, the British government will also present “emergency legislation” in Parliament to designate Rwanda as a safe nation.