UK signs new treaty with Rwanda to toughen its migration policy

Three weeks after the British Supreme Court rejected a first agreement, London and Kigali signed a new treaty on Tuesday, December 5, aimed at deporting migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda

UK signs new treaty with Rwanda to toughen its migration policy

Three weeks after the British Supreme Court rejected a first agreement, London and Kigali signed a new treaty on Tuesday, December 5, aimed at deporting migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda. This new agreement was signed in Kigali by the British Home Secretary, James Cleverly, and the Rwandan Foreign Minister, Vincent Biruta.

This treaty “will respond to the concerns of the Supreme Court by guaranteeing in particular that Rwanda will not expel people transferred within the framework of the partnership to another country,” the British Home Office assured Tuesday in a press release.

Signed in April 2022 between the government of Boris Johnson and that of Paul Kagame, this “Rwanda partnership” constituted the flagship measure of British migration policy. This agreement provided for asylum seekers arriving in the United Kingdom in “small boats” to be transferred to Rwanda where their asylum claims will be assessed. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who had taken over Mr. Johnson's project, wanted to dissuade migrants from crossing the Channel on these makeshift boats - 46,000 people arrived by this means on British shores in 2022.

Legal snub

But this measure could never be implemented, having been ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal in June and then by the British Supreme Court on November 15. For the five judges of the highest British legal body, the risk was “real” for these people of being returned to their country of origin by the Rwandan authorities, even though their request would have had a good chance of being accepted if she was being treated in the United Kingdom. For the Court of Appeal, as for the Supreme Court, Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country for migrants.

“We continued this partnership with the United Kingdom because we believe that we have a role to play in this illegal immigration crisis,” Vincent Biruta defended Tuesday from Kigali at a press conference. Alongside him, British Home Secretary James Cleverly said he had “huge admiration for the Rwandan government, which has received a lot of criticism”. This new agreement includes in particular the creation of "a joint court with Rwandan and British judges in Kigali to ensure that the security of migrants is ensured and that none of the migrants sent to Rwanda are deported to their country", affirmed during of the press conference the deputy spokesperson of the Rwandan government, Alain Mukuralinda. “And he will also make sure to listen to all complaints from migrants,” he continued. Once signed, this text must be ratified by the British and Rwandan Parliaments.

To avoid a new legal snub, the British government also intends to schedule in Parliament the examination of "emergency legislation" to designate Rwanda as a safe country and thus "put an end to this merry-go-round", announced Monday evening M Sunak, in an interview with The Sun. Beyond this “Rwanda partnership”, the British government unveiled new measures on Monday to reduce legal immigration to the country.

The Minister of the Interior notably announced an increase in the minimum annual resources required to settle in the United Kingdom, from 26,200 pounds sterling (approximately 30,552 euros) to more than 38,700 pounds. Non-British people working in the welfare sector will no longer be able to bring in their families and the possibility for employers to recruit foreigners at wages 20% below minimum wages in sectors under pressure (construction, education, etc.) .) will be deleted.