Some asylum seekers could be sent back from Rwanda to UK, minister accepts

A “small number” of vulnerable asylum seekers sent to Rwanda from the UK under Rishi Sunak’s legislation could be readmitted to Britain if they claimed their human rights had been breached, a minister has acknowledged.

The Home Office minister Chris Philp said the Rwanda treaty signed by the home secretary, James Cleverly, had addressed all concerns raised by the UK supreme court, including that asylum seekers would not be sent from Rwanda “to some other unsafe place”.

But asked if there was a cap on how many people who claimed mistreatment would be accepted back in to the UK, Philp told Times Radio: “I think it’s a very, very small number of vulnerable refugees that we might be able to help.”

Philp said the new agreement included “enhanced monitoring arrangements” to ensure the scheme was properly implemented, with an independent committee, including a leading KC and a former senior official from the UNHCR, to oversee the implementation of the treaty and make sure the terms were adhered to.

The minister refused to spell out what would happen if Rwanda did not abide by the terms of the treaty, noting it would be laid out in the new bill, which could be published as soon as this week.

Philp also acknowledged that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda who went on to commit a crime could end up being returned to the UK. “There is a possibility that after serving a prison sentence they could be returned here,” he said.

The government’s hope was for the new bill – expected to be announced in the “coming days” – to make sure courts could not “unpick this approach”, Philp said.

Philp echoed concerns raised by Cleverly, who said he had been uncomfortable with some of the criticism directed at Rwanda.

“The sort of implied tone of some of the commentary over the last year or so in relation to Rwanda has sort of implied that Rwanda is not a reasonable country, and that is I think unfair on Rwanda,” Philp said.

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Sunak has said that whatever form the new legislation takes, it will be sufficient to deal with the supreme court’s objections in time for flights to begin taking off by next spring.

On whether deported asylum seekers would return to the UK and be free, Philp told LBC: “Firstly, that is a person who, without the Rwanda treaty, would have been in the UK anyway.

“And secondly, if that happened and it is getting very, very limited circumstances, after a prison sentence, if anyone did end up coming back here, which is pretty unlikely, but if they did, we would then look to return to their own country of origin, which we would do where someone is not conducive to the public good under the 1971 Immigration Act.”


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