Lawyers ready to challenge Sunak's revamped Rwanda policy for asylum seekers

Rishi Sunak is renegotiating a new agreement with Rwanda and will give that a legal footing by turning it into an international Treaty, ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Lawyers involved in the case against the government's Rwanda policy - who had a huge victory this week - have told ITV News that they are ready to challenge Rishi Sunak's new plan all the way to Strasbourg and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

They claimed that the changes being made by the PM were unlikely to fully address concerns raised by the Supreme Court judges this week - and so would leave open the possibility of a legal challenge.

Mr Sunak is renegotiating a new agreement with Rwanda, and will give that a legal footing by turning it into an international Treaty. 

He will then pass a law that deems Rwanda safe for asylum seekers, making it something very hard to challenge in domestic courts. 

Home Secretary James Cleverly told me today that he had listened carefully to the judgment and the Treaty would address the warnings of the judges.

Home Secretary James Cleverly angered Tory MPs after arguing that the Rwanda plan was not the “be all and end all” of migration policy.   Credit: PA

For example, Rwanda will now agree to keep people whose asylum claims fail and still give them a route to work and accommodation. 

He argued that would get rid of the risk of refoulment - where a refugee is returned to their country of origin. 

But lawyers pointed out to me that the judgment was much more extensive than that and included highlighting previous occasions when Rwanda had mistreated asylum seekers, despite being signed up to international agreements like the Refugee Convention.

It said: "Since Rwanda has ratified many international human rights conventions... this raises serious questions as to it's compliance with international obligations."

They said the amount of change required made them sceptical about whether Rwanda could do enough to bolster it's asylum process in time for flights to go this Spring. 

They argued that would leave space for a challenge, saying that while it was much harder to challenge primary legislation it was possible.

One lawyer said there was a range of options, including questioning the compatibility of the law with the Human Rights Act.

The government could prevent that with special notwithstanding clauses in the bill, but, even then, the lawyers insisted they were ready to head to Strasbourg and the ECHR.

The only way to protect the policy from its remit would be to pull out of the ECHR - which Suella Braverman has flirted with.

Tonight, she says the human rights laws should be disapplied in the case of this legislation.

Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary by Rishi Sunak Credit: PA

But Mr Cleverly would not go there, when I pushed him on this earlier, repeatedly saying it would not be necessary, so he did not need to say if he was willing to go that far.

Other senior government figures have previously told me that leaving the convention would "detonate" the Tory party. 

When I asked Jonathan Jones KC - the former most senior government lawyer - if he thought planes would be likely to leave by Spring, he said: "I think there must be doubts about it since Rwanda. 

"These changes can't just be words on a page - they have to be things that Rwanda can be trusted to do. The history is that Rwanda can't be trusted.

"The supreme court said 'well - no doubt it enters into these things in good faith but it doesn't have the capacity, or the culture or the practice'."

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