Sunday 17 April 2022

UK and Rwanda ~ "mechanism" to relocate asylum seekers

Section 77 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 states that a person cannot be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts while their asylum claim is pending. 

The government's Nationality and Borders Bill - ( now almost through Parliament) - seeks to change the law so that such removal is legally possible. Even at this very late stage, the House of Lords still has opportunity to oppose this change.

The government argues that it is appropriate to remove an asylum seeker to a "a safe third country while their claim for asylum is pending." To that end, on 13 April 2022, the Home Secretary (Priti Patel MP) signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU) with the government of Rwanda (represented by Vincent Biruta - Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation). The document may be read HERE.

The objectives of the MoU

are set out in paragraph 2 -

The UK has found a place that will accept those asylum seekers whose claims it chooses not to process. Essentially, this is a relocation scheme intended by the UK government to try to deter individuals from coming to the UK in the first place.

The MoU states that it is not binding in international law. The MoU will last for 5 years but is renewable. It came into force upon signature.

Unsurprisingly, this arrangement has already come under severe criticism. Legal challenge is almost certain.


17 April 2022

*** Additional Note (18 April 2022) ***

Is the Memorandum of Understanding a treaty between the UK and Rwanda.

The actual designation of the document as a Memorandum of Understanding is not determinative of that question.

This is not a treaty because the document itself states unequivocally that it is not binding in international law.  Furthermore, see 2.2 above stating that the commitments in the document do not create rights for any individual and that compliance with the arrangement is not justiciable in any court of law by third parties or individuals.

Within UK domestic law the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 contains a process applicable to treaties and the term "treaty" is defined for the purposes of the Act in section 25 -

Section 25 begins - "Meaning of “treaty” and “ratification” - (1) In this Part “treaty” means a written agreement - 

(a)between States or between States and international organisations, and

(b)binding under international law.

For the process in the Act to apply, the agreement must be binding in international law and the UK-Rwanda MoU is not so binding.

--- OOOOO ---

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