Cabinet minister Lucy Frazer said the Home Office was looking “very carefully” at the idea of sending UK government lawyers to Rwanda to address concerns about the legal system there.
The Daily Telegraph reported that British lawyers could be sent to advise Rwandan judges, perhaps for specific asylum case hearings or for longer periods, to help ensure asylum appeals are granted correctly, although the Kigali government is unlikely to accept any arrangement which would look like colonial-style legal interference.
If a deal is reached, Cleverly could head to Rwanda as soon as this week to sign the treaty, with domestic legislation also planned so the UK parliament could assert the African nation is a safe destination for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain.
Culture Secretary Frazer was pressed on whether British lawyers could be stationed in Rwanda’s courts.
She added: “I know that the Home Secretary James Cleverly is now working with Rwanda on a new treaty, and we will be bringing forward legislation in due course.”
On November 15, the UK Court of Appeal said Rwanda could not be treated as a safe third country and migrants going there would be at risk of being sent back to home nations.
In the wake of that judgment, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days along with emergency legislation in parliament – but neither has yet emerged.
There has been speculation that Rwanda is pushing for more money on top of the £140 million (US$177.3 million) already committed to the scheme.
The Sunday Times reported that Kigali is to be given a £15 million top-up payment to agree fresh terms on its agreement with the UK to take migrants who arrive in Britain via small boats.
He declined afterwards to say how much more money he would spend to get the scheme off the ground.
Additional reporting by Reuters