British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing instability within the Conservative Party as he tries to create unity for the upcoming vote on the Rwanda Bill. The bill
plans to send asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from Britain to Rwanda. In 2022, the planned first flight to send a group of asylum seekers to Rwanda was canceled at the last minute
amidst legal challenges. At play was the constitutionality of deporting asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to a country known for its human rights violations and the refouling of asylum seekers to their country of origin. The UK Supreme Court
found that “there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda” which was in clear violation of Britain’s Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR
, which Britain ratified along with all other European countries except Belarus and Russia, ensures the “government could not dehumanize and abuse individuals’ rights” by guaranteeing “the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and security and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”
In an attempt to counter the UK Supreme Court’s ruling, the British government has signed a treaty with Rwanda to counter many of the concerns the court cited in their ruling. Under this treaty, Rwanda will not deport any deported migrants it receives to any country where the freedom or life of an individual might be threatened. Moreover, the British government will pay for the accommodations and living expenses of those relocated to Rwanda for 5 years. The treaty
also establishes an independent monitoring committee to ensure Rwanda upholds the treaty.
Still, the court did not find the action of sending asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to third-world countries itself illegal, and has allowed a similar scheme with
Given that the new treaty has targeted the Supreme Court’s concerns over the past bill, a revamped Rwanda Bill has been submitted
to the House of Commons. A vote on the new bill is set to take place on Tuesday and would recognize Rwanda as a “safe country,” circumventing the Supreme Court ruling. Reducing immigration is a central pledge of the British PM and core to Conservative voters' priority ahead of the next general elections in 2024.
Another point of controversy comes from the high costs associated with the plan. The British government has spent over 290 million GBP
on the plan, with already a 100 million GBP disbursed this week despite a single refugee stepping foot into Rwanda. The successful passage of the bill will likely involve over 400 million GBP in spending
. The British government, however, believes the Rwanda bill will deter the “boats,” referring
to the dangerous journey made by over 45 thousand people who cross the English channel on small boats.
Despite a majority of 29 MPs in the House, the vote results are uncertain
given the policy's unpopularity with the Conservative Party's left and right. For the former, the proposal is far-fetched and unpractical. At the same time, the right believes it doesn’t go far enough and has advocated for scrapping the ECHR. Whatever the result may be, it is sure to influence the way nations around the world tackle illegal immigration, a prevalent problem that is not disappearing anytime soon.
Ryunosuke Hashimoto is Deputy News Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.