Rashmin Sagoo, Director of Chatham House’s International Law Programme, appeared as an expert witness to the UK Parliament’s cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum & Immigration) Bill on 17 January 2024.
Alongside other legal experts, Ms Sagoo gave evidence to help the Committee understand the international law implications and likely impact of the Bill, including whether it adequately resolves the key issues identified by the recent Supreme Court judgement on the government’s Rwanda policy.
During her evidence, Ms Sagoo noted key points including:
‘The bill has significant implications for the UK’s legal leadership and global soft power more generally, including whether it can continue to be seen as a reliable international partner.’
‘An act of Parliament cannot alter obligations that have been entered into on the international plane. The UK has traditionally gone to great lengths to ensure its domestic laws are compliant with its obligations in international law, and certainly before it enters into new obligations.’
“An act of @UKParliament cannot alter obligations that have been entered into in international law”— Chatham House (@ChathamHouse) January 22, 2024
Rashmin Sagoo (@CHIntLaw) gives evidence before the @HumanRightsCtte on the UK government’s Rwanda bill. pic.twitter.com/Fg9PmBlKSa
On Parliament being asked to overturn the Supreme Court’s judgment on the facts, she also stated that:
‘The Supreme Court’s decision was all about the facts and the reality on the ground. Parliament is being asked to take on a huge responsibility here in declaring Rwanda safe, irrespective of any evolving facts. It is not possible to divorce safety from the facts on the ground at the relevant time.’
Ms Sagoo also commented on the ability of a UK-Rwanda treaty to meet the concerns of the Supreme Court:
“A [UK-Rwanda] treaty is capable of meeting the concerns of the @UKSupremeCourt. However, there is much more work to be done”— Chatham House (@ChathamHouse) January 22, 2024
Rashmin Sagoo (@CHIntLaw) gives evidence before the @HumanRightsCtte on the UK government’s Rwanda bill. pic.twitter.com/Rv6muBCKju
Ms Sagoo was formerly a UK government lawyer and diplomat, advising on a range of matters including human rights, international humanitarian law, UN Security Council resolutions and international judicial architecture.
She led several high-profile cases before domestic and international courts, including the Court of Justice of the European Union, the US Supreme Court, and as UK agent to the European Court of Human Rights. She was previously an international lawyer for the British Red Cross and also the European Commission.