Rwanda policy introduction 'unacceptable' and 'didn't legally enforce safeguards on human rights'

The Rwanda policy has sparked widespread protests. Credit: PA

The government’s method of enforcing the controversial Rwanda deportation policy has been described as “unacceptable” by a House of Lords committee as it avoided parliamentary scrutiny and lacked legally enforceable safeguards on human rights.  

When introducing the policy, the government opted to use a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK and Rwanda instead of a legally binding treaty.

This method meant the government could not ensure the humans rights of those affected were protected once they were sent to Rwanda.  

The safeguards on individual rights which are written within the MoU were not legally enforceable and therefore those affected by the policy were not fully protected.  

The government believes its policy can help deal with migrant channel crossings. Credit: PA

Sources in the Home Office are adamant that the monitoring arrangements within the MoU give the assurances that the arrangement would operate in line with international obligations but the report seen by ITV News is critical of the government’s approach.  

It says the use of an MoU also avoided the need of parliamentary scrutiny which would have been required if an international treaty was signed.  

Baroness Hayter, Chair of the International Agreements Committee in the House of Lords said that a legally enforceable treaty should have been the vehicle of choice when trying to introduce a policy of this nature.  

“It is unacceptable that the government can avoid parliamentary scrutiny of important agreements with significant human rights implications by concluding such agreements as MoUs,” Baroness Hayter said.

“We regret that the government failed to respond to our call for evidence and did not submit evidence to our inquiry.”

The Home Secretary has said she is eager for the proposals to work. Credit: PA

The initial plan was for the government to send selected migrants that arrive in the UK illegally to Rwanda but the policy has come under significant issues from the offset.  

Government documents seen by ITV News as early as April raise issues over the legality of such a policy and the first deportation flight was halted at the last minute by the European Court of Human Rights.  

No flights to Rwanda have since taken place and the High Court will now rule on whether the policy is legal.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told ITV News the plan has always been “unworkable, unethical and extortionately expensive” and that the government should “scrap this failing policy”.  

"There has been no proper scrutiny either of the costs which the government has tried to hide or the protection for those who are vulnerable,” Ms Cooper said.  

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are confident in our arrangement with Rwanda and that it meets our international obligations and guarantees the safety of those relocated - both countries fully intend to meet the commitments within this.

"We have a strong relationship with the Rwandan government and are proud to be working together to deliver on the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with them."