James Cleverly says new Rwanda bill 'not compatible' with ECHR - as Sunak's emergency legislation published

6 December 2023, 17:28 | Updated: 6 December 2023, 18:44

James Cleverly has said the bill will not be compatible with the ECHR.
James Cleverly has said the bill will not be compatible with the ECHR. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

James Cleverly has said he cannot confirm the new Rwanda bill will be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, as the new emergency legislation is published.

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Rishi Sunak's emergency legislation on the Rwanda migration bill, titled the ‘Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill’, has been published.

In the opening statement to the bill, Home Secretary James Cleverly said he could confirm the bill is "compatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said: “I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the Bill”.

The new law states that Parliament believes Rwanda is a safe country and that decision makers should consider it such.

“This Act gives effect to the judgement of Parliament that the Republic of Rwanda is a safe country,” the legislation reads.

Read more: Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman claims Tories face 'electoral oblivion' unless Rwanda flights go ahead

Read more: Sunak to ‘cut through middle’ on Rwanda plan in bid to appease ‘majority’ of Tory MPs as ministers threaten to quit

It also adds that the UK parliament "is sovereign" and "the validity of an Act is unaffected by international law”.

The law disapplies parts of the Human Rights Act (HRA) in relation to the policy of Rwanda/migration.

Announcing the new legislation, Rishi Sunak wrote on X: "Our new landmark emergency legislation will:

  • Control our borders
  • Deter people taking perilous journeys across the channel
  • End the continuous legal challenges filling our courts

It is parliament that should decide who comes to this country, not criminal gangs."

Under the new legislation, ministers will have the "power" to ignore European Court of Human Rights "interim" judgements.

Announcing the new legislation on Wednesday evening, Mr Cleverly said: “Given the Supreme Court’s judgement we cannot be confident that courts will respect the new treaty on its own.

“So today the government has published emergency legislation to make unambiguously clear that Rwanda is a safe country and to prevent the courts from second-guessing Parliament’s will.

“We will introduce legislation tomorrow... to give effect to the judgement of parliament that Rwanda is a safe country notwithstanding UK law or any interpretation of international law.

He added that anyone moved to Rwanda under the treaty would not be moved to any other country other than the United Kingdom in a “small number of extreme circumstances”.

The treaty, he added, "puts beyond legal doubt the safety of Rwanda and ends the endless merry-go-round of legal challenges".