Willful Ignorance

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The United Kingdom’s Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick resigned this week over disagreements related to the government’s bill that some say is an end run around a recent Supreme Court ruling that deemed the Rwanda asylum transfer scheme illegal, dealing another blow to the ruling Conservative Party’s efforts to curb illegal migration to the UK, CNN reported.

Jenrick quit because the latest attempt by lawmakers to move the scheme forward “does not go far enough.”

In April 2022, the British government unveiled a plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in central Africa, where they would stay until a decision on their claim had been made. But that plan has since come under fire from opposition parties, human rights groups and the United Nations.

Last month, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the scheme was unlawful because Rwanda is not a safe country for refugees, the Associated Press added.

The verdict prompted the government to unveil a new bill attempting to deem Rwanda safe, even as Home Secretary James Cleverly said it wouldn’t guarantee compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – a treaty that the UK is party to.

Meanwhile, the new bill says that the government can “disapply” sections of the UK Human Rights Act, which incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR. Another clause stipulates that the draft legislation is sovereign and its validity is not affected by key international law instruments, including the ECHR and the Refugee Convention, more commonly known as the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951.

Still, the new proposal received criticism from hardline lawmakers of the Conservative Party, who have been lobbying to remove the UK from the ECHR treaty. The opposition Labour Party also condemned the draft, adding that the government was in “total chaos” over the contentious scheme.

Meanwhile, Rwanda warned that it would walk out of the agreement if the UK did not adhere to international law.

Analysts explained that the bill would now face a tough battle in Parliament, noting that moderate factions within the Conservative Party will oppose any breach of Britain’s human rights obligations.

The Conservatives, said analysts, have also taken a beating this week after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized for his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying he made mistakes, at a hearing of an official inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic.

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