Migrants jailed for serious crimes in Rwanda will be sent back to Britain

James Cleverly in Kigali

James Cleverly in Kigali

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 06/12/2023

- 07:26

Updated: 06/12/2023

- 07:59

Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a new migrant treaty in Kigali yesterday

Deported migrants jailed for serious crimes in Rwanda will return to Britain under the Government's new treaty with the African nation.

James Cleverly, who became the third Home Secretary to visit Rwanda yesterday, finalised the accord on an overnight flight.

The Braintree MP vowed to address “all issues” raised after the Supreme Court ruled the policy was "unlawful" last month.

Cleverly claimed the safeguards and assurances agreed in the treaty ensured he could not see “any credible reason” why the courts would now deem Rwanda unsafe.

WATCH NOW: James Cleverly discusses the new migrant treaty with Rwanda

The safeguards include a legally binding agreement which stipulates no asylum seeker deported from the UK will be removed to any other country besides Britain.

The Supreme Court criticised the policy by claiming there was a risk asylum seekers rejected by Rwanda could return to their home countries.

There were concerns migrants could face persecution and even torture in such a situation.

Rwanda had also agreed that any migrant relocated to the country could be granted refugee status and allowed to stay.

Migrants can otherwise apply to settle in Rwanda on other grounds or seek asylum in another "safe third country".

However, any asylum seeker convicted of a crime which carries a setence of five years or more would face revocation of their right to stay in Rwanda.

Migrants UKHuge numbers of migrants are still coming to Britain via small boats PA

Such migrants would return to Britain after serving their sentence.

That would also apply to anyone assessed as a threat to national security in Rwanda.

The provision is expected to only apply to a small number of offenders, Home Office sources have claimed.

Migrants from high-risk nations such as Afghanistan and Syria would likely remain.

Kigali also has a veto on which asylum seekers the UK can deport.

Article Four stated: “All transfer requests by the UK shall require approval by Rwanda prior to relocation.”

James CleverlyJames Cleverly signs new Rwanda treaty with Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta


Deported migrants will have access to part UK-funded legal aid but it has not yet been agreed how the costs will be shared between the two nations.

Asylum seekers will also be entitled to five years' support in housing, education, language classes, training and integration.

Britain has paid Kigali £140million since the scheme was first touted last April.

Cleverly refused to comment on how much more could be sent to cover any extra costs.

However, the Home Secretary denied any funds had been requested or offered as part of the treaty negotiations.

Cleverly also refused to guarentee flights would take off by the next general election.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak


He said: “We want to see this part of our wider migration plan up and running as quickly as possible.

"We feel very strongly that this treaty addresses all of the issues of their lordships in the Supreme Court.”

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta claimed his country had been “unfairly treated” by the British courts.

Speaking at a joint press conference yesterday, Biruta suggested “internal UK politics” may have played a role in the original asylum policy being blocked.

Rishi Sunak's Government is expected to unveil separate legislation to put in statute that Rwanda is a safe country later this week.

The Rwanda plan will ensure any migrant who illegally arrives in the UK will be eligble for removal where they can claim asylum.

However, no flights have taken place so far due to a number of legal challenges and the Supreme Court's ruling.

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