PLP’s response to the House of Lords International Agreements Committee’s inquiry into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and Rwanda has now been published.

Read the full evidence submission

The UK should comply with its international obligations in examining the claims of those who seek asylum in the UK – but the Government’s decision to use an MoU to give effect to the UK-Rwanda scheme raises specific concerns around access to justice, rights and accountability.

PLP believes that a scheme for the transfer of asylum-seekers which risks breaching the principles of non-refoulement and individuals’ fundamental rights including the right of access to justice, is unlawful – regardless of whether it is agreed by MoU or treaty.

In summary our concerns with the MoU are:

  1. The speed of the Rwanda selection process restricts access to justice by limiting the time available for individuals to access legal advice, properly put forward their case, and access the court to challenge their relocation to Rwanda. 
  2. Any “safeguards” in the scheme for protecting access to justice and ensuring a person is not wrongly removed to Rwanda, will be meaningless and ineffective unless: they are monitored; operated transparently; subjected to independent scrutiny; and can be enforced.  PLP is concerned that these elements are lacking in the scheme and so there is a high risk of the right of access to justice being breached. 
  3. And accountability is undermined: the MoU is not intended to be governed by the international law of treaties or rules on state responsibility, and was not subject to UK rules on publication and or parliamentary oversight of treaties.

Our recommendations to the Committee include:

  • Strong, effective safeguards which protect the constitutional right of access to justice. 
  • The scheme must be monitored and operated transparently (with the publication of data) and subjected to independent scrutiny, otherwise there will be no way of knowing whether or not it restricts access to justice.
  • Any international instrument that engages individual rights should be published and submitted for scrutiny before it comes into force, whatever its form.
  • In the longer term, the Government should work with other States towards agreeing a clear international instrument setting out what types of international arrangements should be MoUs and which should be treaties.

Full evidence submission (pdf)

Full evidence submission (Word document)