Rwanda threatens to pull out from migrants deal if UK acts unlawfully

December 07, 2023

KIGALI: Rwanda on Wednesday warned that it would pull out of a treaty to accept migrants if the UK does not respect international law, as hardliners in London turned the screw on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Former UK interior minister Suella Braverman issued Conservative leader Sunak an ultimatum to get tougher on immigration or face certain wipeout in the next general election. Among her demands was to block “all routes” of legal challenge to deportations to get deportation flights to Rwanda by the time of the poll, which is expected next year.

Britain's Home Secretary James Cleverly (L) and Rwanda's Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta attend a press conference where they signed a new treaty, in Kigali on December 5, 2023. — AFP

She also urged the government to introduce “powers to detain and remove (migrants)... notwithstanding the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, and all other international law”.

But in Kigali, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, who signed a new bilateral treaty on migrants with Braverman´s successor on Tuesday, said any breach of global conventions could see Rwanda withdraw from the deal.

“It has always been important to both Rwanda and the UK that our rule of law partnership meets the highest standards of international law, and it places obligations on both the UK and Rwanda to act lawfully,” he said in a statement. “Without lawful behaviour by the UK, Rwanda would not be able to continue with the Migration and Economic Development Partnership,” he added, referring to the controversial deal.

In London, Braverman´s successor James Cleverly published emergency legislation designed to ensure Rwanda is considered a safe country, after Supreme Court judges last month deemed that it was not. “This is a partnership to which we and Rwanda are both completely committed,” he told parliament, saying the proposed law put “beyond legal doubt the safety of Rwanda”.