Human Rights Act, ECHR and Government accountability / Immigration and migrants' rights

Over 260 charities and expert organisations call on House of Lords to reject shameful Rwanda Bill

Posted on 27 Jan 2024

A coalition of 270 charities and expert organisations working to protect people’s rights have issued a joint statement calling on Peers to reject the Government’s Rwanda Bill as it reaches Second Reading in the House of Lords today.

Full statement and signatory list below.

Joint civil society statement on the Rwanda Bill for Second Reading in the House of Lords, January 2024:

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is a constitutionally extraordinary and deeply harmful piece of legislation.

It threatens the universality of human rights and is likely in breach of international law, striking a serious blow to the UK’s commitment to the rule of law.

It was not a Government manifesto commitment – on the contrary, it will hinder the UK’s ability to “continue to grant asylum and support to refugees fleeing persecution”.

As a coalition of more than 260 organisations working in and across the UK, we call on Peers to reject the Bill at Second Reading.

The Rwanda Bill undermines the principle that human rights are universal – that they apply to all of us, regardless of where we are from.

Going even further than recent Government legislation such as the Illegal Migration Act (IMA), the Rwanda Bill disapplies key aspects of our Human Rights Act (HRA) which include basic, minimum standards that exist to protect us all.

This will create a two-tiered system of human rights protection, where adults and children seeking safety who are threatened with removal to Rwanda will not have the full protections of the HRA to enforce their rights in domestic courts.

The Rwanda Bill is an attack on the constitutional role of the judiciary and the rule of law.

The Bill legislates something that has been authoritatively found to be false by the Supreme Court and requires it to be treated as true in perpetuity.

Even if a court heard overwhelming evidence that Rwanda was unsafe, it would be required to ignore the facts in front of them to “conclusively” treat Rwanda as a safe country.

If the Government is so confident about the legality of the new Rwanda treaty, it should not fear independent oversight by domestic courts.

If Parliament validates legislating legal fictions in this way, it would set a dangerous precedent for future governments – a threat to rights protections for all.

Moreover, the Bill severely restricts grounds for resisting government decisions and domestic court remedies. Limiting access to justice in this way is an erosion of the principle that we are all equal before the law.

The Bill puts the UK on a direct collision course with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Its cover contains an extraordinary statement – that the Government cannot say that it complies with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In particular, the Bill expands powers given to Ministers in the IMA to ignore interim measures of the ECtHR and that Act’s prohibition on UK courts having regard to an interim measure when considering any application/appeal relating to removal to Rwanda.

Interim measures are a life-saving tool that allow the ECtHR in exceptional circumstances to place a temporary stop on an action where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm, to allow time for a full judgment to take place.

They are binding on the Government under international law. Giving a Minister legislative validation in ignoring them is a deeply concerning green light to the breaking of international law and erodes the UK’s commitment to the Convention. The Government itself admits in its ECHR memorandum that using the power would likely breach the ECHR.

The Bill also reneges on other international commitments. In particular, it risks violating the principle of non-refoulement, which the Supreme Court found has been given effect by multiple international treaties to which the UK is a party (including the Refugee Convention and UN Convention Against Torture).

The Rwanda scheme is an attempt by the UK Government to shirk its obligations to consider asylum claims and support those granted protection as part of the international refugee protection system.

Even more alarmingly, the Bill states that the Government and courts should treat Rwanda as a safe country, regardless of “any interpretation of international law by the court or tribunal”.

This extreme provision will damage the UK’s international reputation and ability to hold other states to account for human rights abuses.

The Rwanda Bill will breach the Belfast/Good Friday Peace Agreement (B/GFA) and Article 2 of the Windsor Framework.

The B/GFA commits the UK Government to “complete incorporation into Northern Ireland law of the ECHR, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breach of the Convention, including power for the courts to overrule Assembly legislation on grounds of inconsistency.”

These safeguards, as well as the Government’s Windsor Framework commitment to ‘no diminution of rights in Northern Ireland’, will be violated by proposals in the Bill which directly restrict domestic access to the courts, remove remedies for breaches of the Convention, and reduce the rights of refugees below the standards set by the ECHR and other relevant international law.

Either we all have human rights, or none of us do. The Government must not be allowed to pick and choose when our fundamental rights apply, nor to undermine the ways that we can hold it to account.


  1. ACES
  2. Action Foundation
  3. African Rainbow Family
  4. Agenda Alliance
  5. All Out
  6. Alzheimer Scotland
  7. Amina MWRC
  8. Amnesty Bourneville
  9. Amnesty International UK
  10. Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)
  11. Anti-Slavery International
  12. Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group
  13. Art27 CIC
  14. Art27 Scotland
  15. Article 39
  16. Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees
  17. Asylum Link Merseyside
  18. Asylum Matters
  19. Asylum Support Appeals Project
  20. Bail for Immigration Detainees
  21. Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile
  22. Baptist Union of Wales
  23. Baptists Together
  24. BARAC UK
  25. Basis Yorkshire
  26. Become
  27. Best for Britain
  28. BIASAN
  29. Birmingham City of Sanctuary
  30. Birmingham Community Hosting Network (BIRCH)
  31. Birthrights
  32. Blaksox
  33. Bloody Good Period
  34. Boaz Trust
  35. Bradford and Shipley TUC
  36. Bradford City of Sanctuary
  37. Bridges Programmes
  38. British Association of Social Workers
  39. Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees
  40. C-Change Scotland
  41. Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign
  42. CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers)
  43. Cardiff University
  44. Care4Calais
  45. Carers Trust Scotland
  46. Caritas Cardiff
  47. Caritas Shrewsbury
  48. Carlisle One World Centre
  49. Carlisle Refugee Action Group
  50. Central England Law Centre
  51. Cheshire, Halton & Warrington Race & Equality Centre
  52. Children in Scotland
  53. Children’s Parliament
  54. Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law
  55. Circles Network
  56. Citizens Advice Newcastle
  57. City of Sanctuary Sheffield
  58. City of Sanctuary UK
  59. Civil Society Alliance
  60. Close the Gap
  61. Common space Common humanity
  62. Community Integration and Advocacy Centre (CIAC)
  63. Community Policy Forum
  64. Compassion in Politics
  65. Conversation Group Newcastle
  66. Coram Children’s Legal Centre
  67. Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
  68. Derby Stand up to Racism
  69. Derbyshire LGBT+
  70. Detention Action
  71. Distribute Aid
  72. Doctors of the World UK
  73. Ecojustice Ireland
  74. ECPAT UK (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking)
  75. Edinburgh City Mission
  76. Edmund Rice England
  77. Elmbridge CAN
  78. End Violence Against Women Coalition
  80. ESAScotland
  81. Equality Network
  82. Equally Ours
  83. Fair Vote UK
  84. Faith & the Environment Lincolnshire Group
  85. Faith in Older People
  86. Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)
  87. FODI
  88. forRefugees
  89. Forth Valley Migrant Support Network
  90. Freedom from Torture
  91. Friends of the Earth (England Wales and Northern Ireland)
  92. furness multicultural community forum
  93. Furness Refugee Support
  94. GARAS
  95. Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
  96. Gay Men’s Health Collective
  97. Glasgow Disability Alliance
  98. Glitter Cymru
  99. Global Justice Now
  100. Global Link
  101. Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit
  102. Growing Together Levenshulme
  103. Hackney Stand Up to Racism
  104. Haringey Welcome
  105. Hastings Community of Sanctuary
  106. Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  107. Heanor Baptist Church
  108. Helen Bamber Foundation
  109. Herts for Refugees
  111. Hope for Justice
  112. Human Rights Consortium Scotland
  113. Human Rights Watch
  114. Humanist Society Scotland
  115. Humanists UK
  116. Humans for rights network
  117. Ice and Fire Theatre
  118. Idaraya life CIC
  119. Imkaan
  120. Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
  121. Inclusion North CIC
  122. INQUEST
  123. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
  124. Iraqi Association
  125. Islington Law Centre
  126. JCT – Joining Communities Together
  127. Jesuit Refugee Service UK
  128. Joanna Project
  129. Juno Women’s Aid
  130. Just Fair
  131. Just Futures Centre for Child, Youth, Family and Community Research, University of Huddersfield
  132. JustRight Scotland
  133. Kids in Need of Defense UK
  134. Latin American Women’s Rights Service
  135. Law Centres Network
  136. Learn for Life Enterprise
  137. Leeds Destitute Asylum-Seekers Support
  138. LeedsTransVoice
  139. Legal Aid Practitioners Group
  140. LGBT Health and Wellbeing
  141. LGBT Youth Scotland
  142. Liberty
  143. Lichfield Quaker Meeting, Staffordshire
  144. London Friend
  145. Louth Churches for Refugees
  146. Macc
  147. Magic for Smiles
  148. Making Rights Real
  149. Manchester BME Network CIC
  150. Manchester City of Sanctuary
  151. Manchester Migrant Solidarity
  152. Manchester Refugee Support Network
  154. Maryhill Integration Network
  155. Medical Justice
  156. Mermaids
  157. Merseyside Solidarity Knows No Borders
  158. Metropolitan Community Church of North London
  159. METRO Charity
  160. Micro Rainbow CIC
  161. Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU)
  162. Migrants Organise
  163. Migrants’ Rights Network
  164. Muslim Council of Britain
  165. NACCOM
  166. National AIDS Trust
  167. National Autistic Taskforce
  168. National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW)
  169. New Citizens’ Gateway
  170. New Europeans UK
  171. New to the UK (Churches Together in North Shields)
  172. Newcastle City Council
  173. Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium
  174. Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF)
  175. Oldham Unity
  176. One Life To Live
  177. One Roof Leicester
  178. Open Door North East
  179. Our Second Home
  180. Outside the Box
  181. Parenting Across Scotland
  182. Participation and the Practice of Rights
  183. Partners in Advocacy
  184. Pendle New Neighbours
  185. PERN Penrith and Eden Refugee Network
  186. Phoenix Care Group
  187. Plan International UK
  188. Planning Democracy
  189. Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS)
  190. Praxis
  191. Public Law Project
  192. Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network
  193. Quakers in Britain
  194. Rainbow Haven
  195. Rainbow Migration
  196. Rape Crisis Scotland
  197. RealisingRights
  198. Reclaim the Agenda
  199. REDRESS Trust
  200. Refugee Action
  201. Refugee Council
  202. Refugee Education UK
  203. Refugee Welcome Homes
  204. René Cassin
  205. ReportOUT
  206. Restore, a project of Birmingham Churches Together
  207. Rethink Rebuild Society
  208. Right to Remain
  209. Rights & Choices (Women’s Support Project)
  210. Rights of Women
  211. Safe Passage International
  212. SAYiT
  213. Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
  214. Scottish Refugee Council
  215. Scottish Women’s Aid
  216. Scottish Youth Parliament
  217. Simon Community Scotland
  218. Six Ways Erdington Baptist Church
  219. SMK Law Solicitors
  220. Snowdrop Project
  221. Somali Adult Social Care Agency
  222. South London Refugee Association
  223. South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group
  224. Southeast and East Asian Centre (SEEAC)
  225. Space Youth Project
  226. St. Vincents Justice & Peace group
  227. Stand & Be Counted
  228. Statewatch
  229. Stories of Hope and Home
  230. Student Action for Refugees (STAR)
  231. Support After Rape & Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL)
  232. Tai Pawb
  233. Tees Valley of Sanctuary
  234. The Baobab
  235. The Children’s Society
  236. The Comfrey Project
  237. The Hong Kong Scots
  238. The Hummingbird Refugee Project- Brighton
  239. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
  240. The Kite Trust
  241. The Methodist Church
  242. The Paristamen Charity
  243. The Public Interest Litigation Support (PILS) Project
  244. The Separated Child Foundation
  245. The United Reformed Church
  246. The William Gomes Podcast
  247. Time to be Out
  248. Together Now
  249. Together with Migrant Children
  250. Together with Refugees Stroud District
  251. Tulia Group
  252. Tynemouth Together with Refugees
  253. Tyneside Welcomes
  254. UK Black Pride
  255. Unison
  256. Unlock Democracy
  257. Upbeat Communities
  258.  Vauxhall Community Law and Information Centre
  259.  Voices in Exile
  260. Welfare Scotland
  261.  Welsh Centre for International Affairs
  262.  Welsh Refugee Council
  263.  Wers campaigning group
  264.  West London Welcome
  265.  WISH
  266.  Women for Independence
  267.  Women for Refugee Women
  268.  Women’s Health Matters
  269.  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom UK
  270.  Young Roots


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