Everything You Need to Know About the New Rwanda Bill

Everything You Need to Know About the New Rwanda Bill

In 2022, the government issued plans to clamp down on asylum seekers attempting to enter the UK across the English Channel. In a bid to deter asylum seekers from entering the UK illegally, the UK government devised a plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to apply for asylum rights.

Since the plans were first mentioned in the media, the government has received considerable opposition from human rights charities and other professional bodies deeming Rwanda as “not safe” for refugees. Since then, the government’s plans to remove asylum seekers from the United Kingdom to Rwanda have been hindered on multiple occasions.

On 22nd April 2024, after a battle with the Supreme Court, the new Rwanda bill was passed through parliament which will allow Rishi Sunak and the UK government to proceed with the final phase of their operation to prevent illegal immigration.

The new Rwanda bill brings about a lot of concern and uncertainty for asylum seekers and their families, therefore, it is important to understand what the new Rwanda bill means. This article will outline what the new Rwanda Bill proposes and how it may affect different parties.

What Is The New Rwanda Bill?

The new Rwanda Bill is a clear attempt from the government to deter asylum seekers from illegally entering the UK. Government officials have stated that they plan to “remove the incentive” for asylum seekers entering the UK by not allowing them to stay.

Much opposition has been faced after the Rwanda plan was challenged by the Supreme Court. The government then issued a bill with reassurance that Rwanda had been deemed as a safe country to seek asylum. Moreover, asylum seekers deported to Rwanda will not be faced with being returned to their home country.

Since 2022, thousands of asylum seekers illegally entering the UK have been detained awaiting removal to Rwanda. Now the bill has been passed, it is said that flights will begin within the next 10 to 12 weeks, removing asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.

Once the asylum seekers arrive in Rwanda, they will have the opportunity to apply for refugee status there now it has been deemed as a safe country. Alternatively, they will have the option to seek asylum in an alternative safe country if their asylum request is denied by Rwanda.

How Many Asylum Seekers Are Being Sent To Rwanda?

It is thought that 52,000 asylum seekers are currently being considered for removal to Rwanda. According to sources, the government plans to continue detaining people for removal over the coming weeks ahead of the first flights departing from the United Kingdom.

Allegedly, 5,200 asylum have already been found to be entering the UK illegally and have been deported. These people will be some of the many people facing deportation to Rwanda within the next three months.

What Does the New Law State?

The new law. Passed through parliament on 22nd April, is to be considered one of the toughest laws ever passed through by parliament officials. The government of Rwanda have acted in accordance with the new UK law, promising they are committed to adhering to the terms set out in the treaty. The treaty also:

  • Says that Rwanda is considered to be a safe country to seek asylum in
  • Disemploys certain sections of the Human Rights Act 1998
  • Prevents UK courts and tribunals from delaying the planned removal of an asylum seeker to Rwanda (based on queries regarding the safety of Rwanda)
  • Introduces a specialist asylum immigration system to ensure full support of asylum seekers facing removal from the United Kingdom after entering the country illegally

When Will Flights To Rwanda Depart the United Kingdom?

The UK government has stated that flights to Rwanda containing asylum seekers who have illegally entered the UK are to begin departing in spring 2024- meaning that the first flight could depart as soon as in 10 to 12 weeks time.

Plans have already been put into motion with the government provisionally booking a dedicated airfield and chartered commercial aircraft to accommodate the removal of the individuals in question.

It is not yet confirmed how many asylum seekers will be removed from the United Kingdom to Rwanda, but it is thought that multiple flights will depart from the United Kingdom each month through the spring and summer period. This could even potentially continue into the later months of the year too.

When Will Flights To Rwanda Depart the United Kingdom?

What Was Said By The Supreme Court About the UK’s Rwanda Plans?

After concerns about the safety of Rwanda as a place to remove asylum seekers to, a hearing by the Supreme Court, which took place in November 2023, ruled unanimously that the UK’s Rwanda Scheme was considered unlawful.

It is believed that the Rwanda scheme in question could be a breach of human rights. One further concern was that asylum seekers being removed to Rwanda by the United Kingdom faced a greater chance of being deported back to their home countries; meaning they could be at risk of greater harm, hence why they chose to leave and cross the borders into the United Kingdom.

The Supreme Court further expressed its concern after previous instances of breaches of human rights in Rwanda- officials feel this may pose a further risk to asylum seekers, however, both UK and Rwandan officials have ensured complete safety of the removal location since this hearing took place.

Cost of the Rwanda Bill

The Rwanda bill has incurred some considerable costs for the United Kingdom. By the end of 2023, Rwanda had received £240m from the United Kingdom. Despite this payment, there are further costs to come:

  • If more than 300 people are sent from the United Kingdom to Rwanda- The United Kingdom will make a further payment of £120m to enhance Rwanda’s economic status
  • After this, a further £20,000 must be paid for each individual who is removed from the country to Rwanda
  • Even then, a potential further payment of £150,000 per individual may be applicable

On top of the cost of deporting multiple asylum seekers to Rwanda, the United Kingdom government has offered a one-off payment of £3,000 to each individual who opts to go to Rwanda to seek asylum voluntarily- incurring yet further costs of the Rwanda bill for the United Kingdom.

What Happens if Asylum Seekers Are Refused Refugee Status in Rwanda?

Once asylum seekers are removed from the United Kingdom to Rwanda, they will have the option to apply for refugee status in the country, their application for refugee status will be considered by immigration officials.

If their application is accepted, they will be granted refugee status in Rwanda and may proceed to find a place to live and work within the country. In this instance, they are legally permitted to remain in Rwanda and will no longer face deportation. If they are granted refugee status, however, they must ensure they are adhering to the terms of their immigration status.

If their application is rejected they will likely be deported back to their home country. Upon the refusal of their application for asylum, they will likely be asked to leave voluntarily or they will face removal. However, as part of the Rwanda bill, it is said that asylum seekers will not be forced to return to their home countries.

In this case, asylum seekers who have been refused refugee status in Rwanda will be offered the opportunity to apply for asylum in another country that is deemed safe to do so.

The Rwanda Plan

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