British Home Secretary James Cleverly inked a new treaty Tuesday with the Rwandan government that he hopes will clear the way for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain without permission to be sent there to have their asylum claims processed. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 5 (UPI) -- British Home Secretary James Cleverly arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday to ink a new treaty that he hopes will clear the way for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain without permission to be sent there to have their asylum claims processed.
The Home Office hailed the signing of the treaty by Cleverly and Rwandan counterpart Vincent Biruta in a post on Xcalling it a "landmark agreement" that formed a "vital step in making sure that we break the business model of the people-smugglers."
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes that by letting it be known that those who arrive in small boats or in the back of trucks have no prospect of settling in Britain, people will be deterred from making "dangerous, unnecessary and illegal" journeys.
The government said the update to a 2022 deal addresses concerns that saw the Supreme Court throw out the scheme in November after ruling Rwanda "unsafe" by posting British officials and lawyers in the country. A joint committee will also be set up with oversight of the system.
A second plank of the effort to revive the embattled plan by Rishi Sunak's government, which inherited the $177 million plan from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, involves bringing forward legislation declaring Rwanda "safe."
An emergency bill detailing how the treaty guarantees Rwanda will not deport asylum seekers to the country they were fleeing in the first place -- which the Supreme Court ruled was a real risk -- is set to be brought before Parliament before the end of the week.
Despite this, human rights lawyers and charities said the likelihood that any Rwanda-bound flight with asylum seekers aboard will lift off before the 2024 general election is diminishing by the day. The opposition Labor Party has said it will scrap the policy if it gets into power.
"The suggestion of stationing British lawyers in Rwanda implies a lack of confidence in how cases would be handled there, once again demonstrating the enormous difficulties with the scheme," said Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson.
"The government needs to admit the scheme is likely beyond repair and switch attention to clearing the asylum backlog and tackling the severe lack of capacity in the sector to provide the asylum and immigration advice needed."
Refugee charities said they did not believe the government's latest actions would prevent it being taken back to court over the scheme because the new legislation could not negate the right of an individual to launch a legal challenge.
Government sources denied reports Rwanda was receiving any more money from Britain in return for the new deal signed Tuesday.