Priti Patel (pictured) was the first of three Home Secretaries to push the policyUK Home Office / Flickr

The Law faculty head has attacked the Government’s new Rwanda legislation as “hypocritical in the extreme”, as the bill seeks to overrule parts of the UK’s Human Rights Act.

Professor Mark Elliott, Chair of the Law faculty, denounced the new Rwanda Bill in a blog post, saying the legislation is “as parochial as it is hypocritical.”

On Wednesday (06/12), the Prime Minister published the emergency bill in a bid to push through the Government’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The legislation, which will be first debated in Parliament on the 12th December, allows ministers to ignore judgements from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

The policy has faced many obstacles since the first flight to Rwanda was stopped on the runway last June, with Home Secretary James Cleverly allegedly having described the plans as “batshit” in private.

Professor Elliott, writing in his ‘Public Law for Everyone’ blog, alleged that the bill doesn’t protect the Government from a likely challenge from the ECHR.

The Supreme Court, Elliott writes, initially rejected the Rwanda policy because it failed to protect “non-refoulement”: the principle that “protects asylum-seekers from being returned to a country in which their life or freedom would be threatened.”

“The UK Government insisted that Rwanda was safe, but the Supreme Court disagreed,” Elliott writes.

As a result, the professor slammed the Government as being “as parochial as it is hypocritical,” by expecting to “free” itself from its “international legal obligations” to non-refoulement.

“But this is to conflate the sovereignty of the UK Parliament in domestic law with the UK’s sovereignty on the international plane as a State,” Elliott said.


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The UK will “remain bound by Article 3 of the ECHR, which reflects the non-refoulement principle, and it will remain subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights,” the professor wrote.

Elliott told Varsity: “If enacted by Parliament, an orthodox application of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty would prevent domestic courts from ruling the Bill unlawful.”

“However, under the Human Rights Act, a UK court could declare the Bill to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. And it is highly likely that the Bill will in due course be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights,” he continued.

Professor Elliott’s indictment of the bill comes after Robert Jenrick, the Immigration Minister, resigned in a surprise move on Wednesday. Jenrick wrote that the bill is likely to be challenged in international courts, describing the legislation as “a triumph of hope over experience”.