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UK PM Sunak Says Rwanda Asylum Policy to Proceed Despite Parliamentary Deadlock

UK Prime Minister Sunak has insisted on pushing the Rwanda Asylum Policy legislation through despite opposition.

United Kingdom’s PM Rishi Sunak has affirmed that the government’s policy to process asylum seekers in Rwanda will be enacted into law, even if it entails late-night sittings of Members of Parliament (MPs) to secure its passage.

The legislative process has encountered a protracted deadlock between the two Houses of Parliament over the last four months. The House of Lords has consistently obstructed the government’s proposal, prompting another vote scheduled for later.

However, on Friday, the Prime Minister unequivocally declared an end to further delays, stating, “We will sit there and vote until it’s done.”

The proposed legislation seeks to significantly restrict the grounds for legal challenges to the government’s initiative to transport asylum seekers to Rwanda, streamlining the process for removing refugees who have entered the UK via irregular means.

The bill has previously garnered approval from the House of Commons on multiple occasions, including a recent endorsement last Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the House of Lords has impeded its progression into law by demanding amendments to the bill. Notably, they proposed an exemption for asylum seekers from Afghanistan who had assisted British troops during the military presence in the region. Additionally, they stipulated that flights should only commence after a committee of experts verifies Rwanda’s compliance with specified safeguards.

The legislative stalemate between the two parliamentary chambers may persist until either the government accedes to concessions or peers relinquish their proposed amendments.

Termed as “emergency legislation” by Sunak, the Safety of Rwanda Bill aims to facilitate the fulfilment of the government’s pledge to “stop the boats” by deterring individuals from attempting to cross the English Channel in small vessels to seek asylum in the UK.

The proposed law not only curtails avenues for legal challenges to the Rwanda scheme but also grants ministers discretionary powers to override certain human rights statutes.

The Rwanda asylum scheme was initially introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 14 April 2022, but no asylum seeker has yet been relocated to Rwanda, a landlocked nation in central Africa, situated approximately 4,000 miles (6,500km) from the UK.

Following a unanimous ruling by the UK Supreme Court in November 2023 deeming the Rwanda scheme unlawful, the government introduced the Safety of Rwanda Bill to affirm Rwanda’s designation as a safe country under UK law.

Critics contend that the scheme poses risks to individuals and undermines judicial independence. 

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