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Rwanda Treaty

Volume 742: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2023

On 15 November, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in relation to the migration and economic development partnership between the UK and Rwanda. The Court acknowledged that changes can be delivered to address its concerns. We have been working with the Government of Rwanda to make these changes—they are equally committed to deliver this partnership.

Yesterday, I signed a new treaty with Foreign Minister Biruta. This further strengthens our partnership and addresses the conclusion from the Supreme Court on the risk of refoulement to those individuals who are relocated to Rwanda.

The treaty can be found here:

This treaty is binding in international law. It makes it absolutely clear that people relocated to Rwanda will be safe and supported and will not be removed to a country other than the UK. This ensures there is no risk of refoulement. For those who are not granted refugee status or humanitarian protection, they will get equivalent treatment which includes being granted permanent residence so that they are able to stay and integrate into Rwandan society.

Through the treaty, Rwanda will introduce a strengthened end-to-end asylum system. Individuals will have the right to appeal a decision on their asylum claim, which will be considered by a new, specialist asylum appeals body. It will have one Rwandan and one other Commonwealth co-president and be made up of judges from a mix of nationalities, selected by the co-presidents.

The treaty also enhances the role of the independent monitoring committee which will ensure adherence to obligations under the agreement. It will have the power to set its own priority areas for monitoring and be given unfettered access to complete assessments and reports. The committee will monitor the entire relocation process, including initial screening, relocation and settlement in Rwanda. It will develop a system to enable relocated individuals and legal representatives to lodge confidential complaints directly to the committee.

The Prime Minister committed to stop the boats, and we are delivering on that. The number of arrivals is down by a third; the initial asylum backlog is down from 92,000 to less than 20,000; we have removed over 22,000 people this year; and we have already closed 50 asylum hotels.

To fully solve this problem, we need a strong deterrent as part of our wider toolkit. As our deal with Albania shows, deterrence works: Albanian arrivals are down by more than 90% this year. That is why it is essential we remove illegal migrants to Rwanda. If people know they cannot stay in the UK if they come here illegally, we will prevent people from risking their lives by making the dangerous journey across the channel.

The Prime Minister has announced we will be bringing forward legislation to complement this treaty. I look forward to introducing this to the House in due course.