Rule of law fears over new Rwanda legislation

Lawyers have expressed concerns over the prime minister’s announcement of emergency legislation following this week’s Supreme Court ruling on asylum policy.

On Wednesday justices unanimously found the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda unlawful, as deportees would face a ‘real risk’ of refoulement.

In a statement, Rishi Sunak said he would be ‘working on a new international treaty with Rwanda’ to be ratified without delay. The PM added that the new legislation would ‘provide a guarantee in law’ that asylum seekers ‘will be protected against removal from Rwanda’. 

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak

The Law Society said it would ‘wait to see the detail’, while noting that the ‘government has yet to explain how its Illegal Migration Act can work in practice’. A Law Society spokesperson said: ‘Even with a Rwanda scheme, the government still does not have sufficient return agreements to implement the act and risks adding a new group of asylum seekers left in legal limbo to the already extensive backlog of asylum claimants.’

Bar Council chair Nick Vineall KC said: ‘If parliament were to pass legislation the effect of which was to reverse a finding of fact made by a court of competent jurisdiction, that would raise profound and important questions about the respective role of the courts and parliament in countries that subscribe to the rule of law.’


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