UK Parliament passes Rwanda deportation plan for asylum-seekers

PM Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference, at the Downing Street Briefing Room, in central London, on April 22, 2024 regarding the Britain and Rwanda treaty to transfer asylum-seekers to the African country. (Photo/AFP)

The controversial UK government plans for deporting migrants and refugees to Rwanda has cleared Parliament after a marathon tussle between the House of Lords and House of Commons lasting late into the night.

Members of the unelected upper house, who scrutinise proposed legislation, repeatedly sent back the plans with amendments to MPs in the lower chamber but eventually agreed early on Tuesday to make no further changes, ensuring the bill will now become law.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks.

Sunak said the government had booked commercial charter planes and trained staff to take migrants to Rwanda, a policy he hopes will boost his Conservative Party's flagging fortunes before an election later this year.

The House of Lords had long refused to back the divisive legislation without additional safeguards, but eventually relented after Sunak said the government would force Parliament to sit as late into Monday night as necessary to get it passed.

"No ifs, no buts. These flights are going to Rwanda," Sunak told a news conference earlier on Monday.

Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants — many fleeing wars and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia — have reached Britain in recent years by crossing the English Channel in small boats on risky journeys.

Stopping the flow is a priority for the government, but critics say the plan to deport people to Rwanda rather than handle asylum seekers at home is inhumane.

They cite concerns about the East African country's own human rights record and the risk asylum seekers may be sent back to countries where they face danger.

Sunak's new law states some existing UK human rights statutes will not apply to the scheme and Rwanda must be treated by British judges as a safe destination, in a bid to override a Supreme Court ruling which declared the scheme unlawful.

It also limits individuals' options for an appeal to only exceptional cases.

Other European countries, including Austria and Germany, are also looking at agreements to process asylum seekers abroad.


Source: TRT