Rwanda treaty should not be ratified until its safeguards have been implemented, says Lords committee
17 January 2024
The International Agreements Committee believes that significant legal and practical steps need to be taken before the safeguards provided in the Rwanda Treaty can be fully implemented.
- Report: Scrutiny of international agreements: UK–Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership (HTML)
- Report: Scrutiny of international agreements: UK–Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership (PDF)
- Inquiry: UK-Rwanda asylum Agreement
- International Agreements Committee
In its report on the UK-Rwanda treaty on an asylum partnership, the Committee concludes that the arrangements it provides for are incomplete and accordingly the treaty is not ready for ratification. The Committee highlights that the Government has provided no indication of the timeframe for the completion of these steps, but the evidence suggests it will clearly take some time.
Steps which are required include: a new asylum law in Rwanda; a system for ensuring that non-refoulement does not take place; a process for submitting individual complaints to the Monitoring Committee; training for international judges in Rwandan law and practice; and training for Rwandan officials dealing with asylum applicants.
Moreover, the arrangements put in place by the Treaty need time to bed in to demonstrate that they operate in practice. Overall the committee agrees with the evidence it received – and the view of UNHCR - that the Treaty is unlikely to change the position in Rwanda in the short to medium term.
The report will be debated on the floor of the House on 22 January.
Lord Goldsmith, Chair of the International Agreements Committee, said:
“Our report published today, comes ahead of the debate on the Treaty in the Lords on Monday. The Committee has considered this treaty in accordance with its duty to review all treaties laid before Parliament. In that context, we examined whether the treaty addresses the Supreme Court’s judgement.
“The Government should not ratify the Rwanda Treaty until Parliament is satisfied that the protections it provides have been fully implemented, since Parliament is being asked to make a judgement, based on the Treaty, that Rwanda is safe.
“Members of Parliament should take that into account in considering the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill. Furthermore, they should carefully consider whether the Rwanda Treaty fundamentally changes the assessment of the Supreme Court on Rwanda's compliance with its international obligations. Greater transparency is also required about aspects of the Treaty's implementation to allow for a full assessment.
“The Government should submit further information to Parliament in due course to confirm that the necessary legal and practical steps and training identified in this report, which underpin the protections provided for in the Treaty, have been put in place and bedded in. It should then allow for a further debate before proceeding to ratification.”