UK Parliament’s Human Rights Committee to Conduct a Fact-Finding Mission in Rwanda

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) of the UK Parliament has announced plans to conduct a visit to Rwanda. This initiative is part of its comprehensive evaluation of the human rights implications of the United Kingdom’s asylum strategy. This announcement comes in the wake of the UK Government’s 2022 agreement with Rwanda, intended to transfer certain asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of their asylum claims processing.

The decision to assess the situation in Rwanda directly stems from a series of legal and legislative responses to the UK’s asylum policy. Notably, in December 2022, the UK Supreme Court declared that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful, citing concerns over the safety and human rights conditions in the country. This ruling challenged the legality of the UK-Rwanda asylum agreement and prompted the UK Government to introduce new legislation and renegotiate terms with Rwanda to address these human rights issues.

The JCHR has been actively scrutinizing the policy and its underlying legal framework to ensure its alignment with the UK’s human rights obligations. The committee’s efforts include a detailed review of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill. Its findings highlighted persistent concerns regarding the potential for human rights violations under the current policy. The committee’s ongoing inquiry into the rights of asylum seekers in the UK further emphasizes its commitment to thorough legislative oversight.

The forthcoming visit by the JCHR to Rwanda aims to provide the committee members with an on-the-ground perspective of the operational realities and challenges associated with the UK-Rwanda asylum arrangement. Joanna Cherry KC MP, Chair of the JCHR, emphasized the importance of this mission, stating, “Given the important position Rwanda now plays in the UK’s asylum and immigration strategy, we thought it was important to get first-hand experience of the situation in the country itself. We want to make sure we get as full an understanding of the practical reality of the Rwanda deal as we can to inform our ongoing work on this crucial issue.”

This fact-finding mission underscores the UK Parliament’s proactive approach to addressing complex human rights issues within its asylum and immigration policy framework. The outcomes of the visit are anticipated to play a critical role in shaping the future direction of the UK’s asylum strategy and its commitment to upholding human rights standards.