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UK treaty with Rwanda ratified, Safety of Rwanda Act now in force

In what is a day of enormous shame for any right thinking person in this country, the UK’s treaty with Rwanda has today been ratified which means that the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration Act) 2024 which received Royal Assent today is now in force.

On 22 January 2024 the House of Lords voted against ratification of the treaty until the safeguards had been implemented.

Section 20(8) of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 provides that “The treaty may be ratified if a Minister of the Crown has laid before Parliament a statement indicating that the Minister is of the opinion that the treaty should nevertheless be ratified and explaining why”

Such a statement has therefore been published by the Home Secretary today, despite the safeguards set out in the treaty not yet being in place. The statement includes the following:

The co-presidents will be responsible for selecting judges from a mix of nationalities who will then be duly appointed.

The co-presidents identified are Justice Sam Rugege and Michael Clements.

Michael Clements, the Commonwealth Co-President, has had a highly distinguished judicial career in the UK. He served eleven years as President of the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in the UK, leaving that role in November 2022. As President of the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), he led a national tribunal of over 470 judges, hearing a range of complex and high-profile immigration, asylum and overseas deportation appeals, and overseeing a complete endto-end reform of the appeals service, issuing practice statements to enhance and streamline the process. He has delivered judicial training both nationally and internationally and was the lead trainer for training judges in the Cayman Islands in 2019 and 2021, where he was involved in developing new procedure rules. Both individuals have accepted in principle the invitation extended by the Government of Rwanda to serve as co-Presidents of the Tribunal, pending their formal appointment. This will address the point identified in paragraph 45(f) of the House of Lords International Agreements Committee report.

More details are also provided on what has been done in relation to appointing independent experts, data management, ongoing support provided by the UK to Rwanda, healthcare, safeguarding, training for Rwandan officials, legal assistance and interpretation. The statement says that “we have robust assurances and a clear way forward agreed with the Government of Rwanda to ensure they will be in place within the coming weeks, prior to a first flight”.

He has also confirmed that the treaty is being ratified by the UK today. Rwanda has already ratified the treaty and passed new legislation setting up the appeal tribunal.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.


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