British Home Secretary James Cleverly departs BBC studios after speaking with British television networks in London, Britain, 16 November 2023. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN


UK signs new asylum-relocation treaty with Rwanda


A new treaty between the UK and Rwanda has been signed in response to a British Supreme Court ruling declaring the Conservative Government’s controversial Rwanda deal to relocate asylum seekers to be illegal.

Now, deportees to Rwanda “do not risk being sent back to a country where their lives or freedom would be threatened”, according to the UK Home Office.

The Government has been forced into the move to defend this flagship legislation in its anti-illegal immigration policy following a mid-November ruling by the top UK court.

According to British Home Secretary James Cleverly, the new asylum treaty will “address all the issues” raised by the Supreme Court.

The court had said asylum seekers would be “at real risk of ill-treatment” because, once they were in Rwanda, they could be sent back to their home countries and face persecution.

Rwanda has pledged in the revised treaty it would not send asylum seekers back to their native states, even if their applications were refused.

The agreement also includes establishing “a joint tribunal with Rwandan and British judges in Kigali to ensure that the safety of migrants is guaranteed and that none of the migrants sent to Rwanda are deported to their countries”, Rwandan Government deputy spokesman Alain Mukuralinda told a news conference.

“And it will also ensure that all migrants’ complaints are listened to,” he added.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta expressed the belief that his nation had been “unfairly treated” by the media, international organisations and the UK judiciary.

He declared Rwanda was “very much committed” to the asylum agreement and would stick with it even if there were further obstacles and delays.

Both the UK Parliament and the Rwanda Government now have to ratify the deal.

“It is clear that Rwanda is a safe country, and we are working at a fast pace to advance this partnership to stop the boats and save lives,” Cleverly said.

He also stressed that Rwanda did not receive any additional funding regarding the new treaty, despite acknowledging that “dealing with migration” was not a “cost-free option”.

Cleverly made the remarks after being grilled over claims that Rwanda would receive an extra £15 million (€17.5 million) to seal the deal, on top of £140 million the UK Government had already committed to the project.

The UK is struggling with high numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country, with official estimates showing close to 30,000 reached its shores crossing the English Channel on small boats in 2023.

Net migration to the UK has reached a record high of 672,000 people in the year to June 2023.

The Government’s plans to address this face criticism from all sides.

The opposition Labour Party has already said it would cancel the project if they won power in the next general elections, possibly next year.

Human rights activists say there are questions on how much the co-operation with Rwanda will cost and claim that the country is unsafe. They accuse Rwandan authorities of harassing, threatening, arbitrarily arresting and killing their own people.

Other sceptics on the Right say the British plan will not stop mass migration to the UK and efforts to do so have been a failure so far.