Amendment 19

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:15 pm on 14 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Scriven Lord Scriven Liberal Democrat 2:15, 14 February 2024

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 22, 37 and 42 in the name of my noble friend Lord German, to which I have put my name. These are probing amendments to bring out the mistreatment of evidence that this Bill is enforcing. It is not just that the courts are being cut out but, in the very limited times that an individual can go to a court or tribunal, the truth also is being denied. The court cannot look at the truth in those individual cases.

The primary effect of the Bill is to intentionally—and I use that word deliberately—reject and exclude evidence, and any consideration of it. This is destructive to any real respect for either law or the truth. Law needs to be properly applied to the facts, and the Bill prohibits this. Its proper application depends on an assessment of whether the relevant facts are one way or the other. If we do not have this, we are left with the arbitrary exercise of power. We are ultimately talking about truth that is established according to evidence, with an understanding that the evidence which leads to findings of fact may change and therefore the facts will as well. Fixing facts contrary to or regardless of the evidence, and fixing them for all time, is not something we recognise in the tradition we have in this country, and which gives us our international reputation. It allies us to countries where citizens cannot be confident that truth, and therefore justice, will prevail.

Clause 4(1) relates to the narrow grounds for appeal that individuals have, and that they have to show compelling evidence relating specifically to their individual circumstances. This is highly contrived and suggests that the court cannot make assessment of risk to a person, particularly individual circumstances, without being able to consider evidence linked to the general safety of Rwanda as a country. It is difficult to comprehend what this would permit. Any proper approach to evidence must be holistic; evidence specific to the person and that which is more general are always interlinked—they are never separate. Linking the individual’s case to the generality of Rwanda gives the court the full facts to be able to make a decision about the truth and the risk to that individual.

For example, a risk to an individual based on their political activity can be understood by understanding the general approach to a regime of political dissenters with the same profile of the individual before the court, particularly if they themselves have had no connection with that country. It is only by assessing all the evidence that any proper evaluation of risk can be concluded.

The attitude to evidence in the Bill indicates that there is no true concern for the safety of anyone who falls under its remit, and the Bill is to facilitate the transportation of people no matter the implications for the law, morality or truth.