Rwanda Bill Passes Second Reading Despite Tory Rebellion


The government has cleared the first hurdle in Parliament to push through an emergency bill in a bid to revive its plan to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill passed the second reading on Tuesday evening by 313 votes to 269 despite a rebellion from the right wing of the Conservative Party.

A total of 38 Conservative MPs abstained, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick.

The Democratic Unionist Party and most opposition parties opposed the bill while Sinn Féin abstained.

The vote came as an immigrant died on Tuesday morning on Bibby Stockholm, an accommodation vessel used as temporary housing for illegal immigrants.

The Rwanda bill is designed to address the concerns of the Supreme Court after judges ruled last month that the policy is unlawful because those who are relocated there would be at risk of being sent back to their home country, a practice called refoulement that’s banned under international law so refugees won’t face the risk of persecution.

The government hopes the bill can revive the policy, which has been mired in legal challenges and is yet to take off.

It was initially stumped by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which emptied the first deportation flight with an interim injunction. The policy was then challenged in domestic courts.

The policy to send illegal immigrants on a one-way trip to Rwanda is a key part of the government’s plan to deter small-boat crossings in the English Channel, the main route of illegal entry into the UK.

Following the Supreme Court ruling last month, Home Secretary James Cleverly went to Kigali to upgrade the Rwanda deal to a legally binding treaty, so Rwanda will be obligated to treat relocated individuals in accordance with international law and is not allowed to send them on to anywhere expect to the UK upon the UK’s request, regardless of whether their asylum claims are approved.

The Rwanda bill seeks to have Rwanda recognised as safe by Parliament. If it’s passed, it will oblige ministers, immigration officers, and British courts to consider Rwanda a safe country in general.

Legal challenges against a decision to send someone to Rwanda would only be allowed based on individual circumstances.

Speaking for the bill on Tuesday, Mr. Cleverly said he’s “confident” that while the measures are “novel and very much pushing at the edge of the envelope,” they are “within the framework of international law. ”

“More importantly, other international organisations also rely heavily on Rwanda, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Union,” he said.

Source: The Epoch Times