"Does not go far enough": UK immigration minister resigns over controversial Rwanda asylum bill
London [UK], December 8, 2023 (ANI): UK's Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, has tendered his resignation, expressing dissatisfaction with the government's proposed legislation on the Rwanda asylum transfer scheme. Jenrick asserted that the legislation "does not go far enough" and falls short of providing the necessary safeguards for the contentious policy, CNN reported.
The UK government's plan to transfer asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their claims to Rwanda has faced significant legal challenges since its announcement in April 2022. Despite efforts by three successive Home Secretaries, the UK Supreme Court declared the scheme unlawful in a November judgement.
In his resignation letter, Jenrick, who operates within the Home Office, stated that he cannot support the latest draft bill as it lacks the robust measures needed to ensure the policy's success. He emphasised the high stakes for the country, expressing concern about the potential for legal challenges to paralyse the scheme and undermine its intended deterrent effect, according to CNN.
Previously committed to taking decisive action against illegal migration, Jenrick had even suggested withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). A faction of hardline lawmakers within the Conservative Party, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, has advocated for leaving the ECHR, citing it as a barrier to the Rwanda policy.
The newly unveiled legislation, however, does not withdraw the UK from the ECHR. Notably, Home Secretary James Cleverley acknowledged on the first page of the bill that he could not guarantee its compatibility with Convention rights. The bill also disposes of certain sections of the UK Human Rights Act and asserts its sovereignty, indicating that its validity is unaffected by key international law instruments.
The bill's presentation was met with criticism from the opposition Labour Party, which labelled the government as being in "total chaos." Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, urged the government to focus on combating criminal gangs involved in smuggling people to the UK, as reported by CNN.
Legal experts, including Professor Mark Elliot of the University of Cambridge, have criticised the bill as "hypocritical," alleging that it presupposes Rwanda's adherence to international law while allowing the UK to breach its own obligations.
Adding to the challenges, the Rwandan government issued a warning, threatening to withdraw from the partnership if the UK does not adhere to international law. Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta emphasised the importance of lawful behaviour for the Migration and Economic Development Partnership to continue.
The next phase for the legislation involves UK lawmakers debating its merits in parliament during the "second reading," CNN reported. (ANI)