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International Business Times UK
International Business Times UK
Callum Conway-Shaw

Home Secretary James Cleverly Signs New Ayslum Treaty in Rwanda

James Cleverly was appointed Secretary of State last month after a cabinet reshuffle saw Suella Braverman fired from her position. (Credit: AFP News)

British Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new treaty with Rwanda today, as the government attempts to push through their asylum plan.

Last month, their strategy to cut illegal migration to the UK – by sending migrants to Rwanda – was blocked by the Supreme Court.

It ruled that deporting asylum seekers to the East African country would violate international human rights laws enshrined in domestic legislation.

The Rwanda plan is at the centre of the government's strategy to "stop the boats" – one of Rishi Sunak's five pledges he made at the beginning of his premiership.

Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a revised treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

After flying out to Rwanda, Mr Cleverly met his counterpart, Vincent Biruta, to sign an updated treaty and discuss key next steps in the so-called migration and economic development partnership.

The new agreement will include a commitment that Rwanda would not expel asylum seekers to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened – one of the court's major concerns.

There will also be a monitoring committee to enable individuals to lodge confidential complaints directly to them and a new appeal body made up of judges from around the world.

Cleverly said there was now no "credible" reason to block the deportation flights because the treaty addressed all the issues raised by the Supreme Court and no extra money had been given to Rwanda to upgrade the deal from the existing memorandum of understanding.

Domestic legislation, which will be rushed through parliament to assert Rwanda is a safe destination for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain, is also planned.

Ministers hope the upgraded agreement, along with "emergency" legislation at home, will address the issues that led the UK's highest court to rule the Rwanda scheme unlawful.

Mr Cleverly said Rwanda "cares deeply about the rights of refugees" and that there is no doubt "it is a safe country".

The home secretary said: "We are working at pace to move forward with this partnership to stop the boats and save lives."

"The Supreme Court recognised that changes may be delivered in future to address the conclusions they reached - and that is what we have set out to do together, with this new, internationally recognised treaty agreement."

Mr Cleverly's visit comes after he laid out his five-point plan to cut legal immigration in the Commons yesterday, including a ban on care workers bringing their families over to the UK and raising the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa to £38,700 from next spring.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office trumpeted the proposals as "the biggest clampdown on legal migration ever".

But critics said it would damage the state-run National Health Service (NHS), which faces staff shortages.

Immigration is set to be a key issue in nationwide elections that must be held by January 2025 at the latest, and which the main opposition Labour Party is currently favoured to win.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people who arrived in Britain last year was 745,000 more than the number who left.

Cleverly claimed his plan would result in 300,000 fewer people coming to the UK in the coming years.

Responding to today's developments, Labour's Yvette Cooper accused the government of "going round in circles", saying Mr Cleverly was the third home secretary to visit the country in support of the Rwanda scheme, which she branded "simply a gimmick".

She said: "We want to stop dangerous boat crossings, they are undermining border security and putting lives at risk.

"What that means is we've got to have action to go after the criminal gangs who are making huge sums as a result of these dangerous boat crossings."

"Instead... it's a bit like Groundhog Day – you've got the third home secretary in less than two years off to Rwanda with another chequebook," Cooper added.

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