Lee Marsons argues that the UK Government’s new Rwanda treaty doesn’t address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the safety of asylum seekers.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Supreme Court concluded, after looking impartially at the evidence, that Rwanda was not a safe country to send persecuted human beings.  

It found as a matter of fact that Rwanda has a long history of misunderstanding its obligations to refugees, had failed to comply with those obligations effectively, and in some instances had wilfully disregarded them. While negotiating the original deal with the UK, at least six people were unlawfully returned to unsafe countries.  

The evidence on whether Rwanda is safe has not changed since the Supreme Court’s judgment. The commitments set out in this treaty do not change these basic facts and the most fundamental question of whether Rwanda can be relied upon – as it has failed to up the present day – to comply with its obligations. 

The Supreme Court was clear that making Rwanda ‘safe’ would require structural and cultural change within Rwanda’s judicial system. It is highly unlikely that this has happened in less than one month – meaning that there remains a real risk that people will be harmed. This treaty will result only in more legal wrangling, more expense, and further risk to human life and safety.