WMA Council Resolution on Proposed Legislation in UK on the Treatment of Migrants disregarding the injunction interim measures Rule 39 of ECHR

Adopted by the 223rd WMA Council session, Nairobi, Kenya, April 2023 and
revised by the 226th WMA Council session, Seoul, Korea, April 2024


The WMA expresses its grave concern about the United Kingdom (UK) government intention to pursue the Safety of Rwanda Bill that legislates the reversal of the Supreme Court’s recent unanimous judgement of the risk of harm in Rwanda. The Bill risks leaving people who are vulnerable, fleeing dangerous situations and who have often experienced trauma, subject to an environment where they are potentially re-traumatised and unable to access the medical attention they may urgently need. This will have a detrimental impact on the mental health of those removed. 

The WMA is troubled by the proposed provisions in the Bill that would allow ministers to disregard the measures issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) under Rule 39 of the rules of the court in relation to the treatment of migrants and prohibits courts from having regard to any such measure. The WMA is committed to the principle of respect for international law. If enacted, this legislation would remove an important protection for people seeking asylum, other migrants and those health workers caring for them. 

Rule 39 interim measures have prevented the forced removal of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, under a controversial offshoring scheme that the UK medical community has condemned on medical, ethical and humanitarian grounds. 

Human Rights are only meaningful and effective if they are applied equally to everyone. Given the key role of the United Kingdom in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights, this creates a dangerous precedent that other nations might seek to follow. 


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