Supreme Court considers deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda “illegal”

The British Supreme Court on Wednesday, November 15, confirmed the illegality of the government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda who arrived illegally on British soil, regardless of their origin. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his country was ready to work on a new agreement, while Rwanda rejected the Supreme Court action.

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A decision by the British executive authority was overturned by the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, November 15, the UK’s highest court confirmed the illegality of the government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda who arrived on British soil illegally.

The five senior judges unanimously rejected the Home Office’s appeal and upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that the policy was unlawful. The decision, which Chief Justice Robert Reed insisted was based on legal rather than political grounds, was notable Immediate burial of a symbolic policy measure by Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak To combat illegal immigration.

The leader indicated that the government now intends to “study the next steps” and noted that the Supreme Court “confirmed that the principle of sending illegal immigrants to a safe third country is a legal principle.”

The Rwandan government announced, through an official spokesman, that it “challenges the decision that Rwanda is not a safe third country.” For asylum seekers and refugees.

While Rishi Sunak was pleased earlier this morning to have achieved his target of halving inflation, this decision just three hours later is a blow to the Prime Minister and his promise to “stop the boats” of migrants in the English Channel. More than 27,000 migrants have been able to cross since the beginning of the year, compared to a record number of 45,000 in 2022.

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The plan to send migrants – whatever their origin – to Rwanda was announced a year and a half ago under Boris Johnson’s government, but was never implemented.

In mid-2022, a first flight was canceled at the last minute following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

Then, at the end of June, the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the project was “unlawful,” ruling that Rwanda could not be considered a “safe third country.”

The risk of “persecution” for deportees

The judges considered that there was “a real risk that persons sent to Rwanda will (subsequently) be returned to their countries of origin, where they may be subjected to persecution and other inhumane treatment.” The Supreme Court endorsed this reasoning on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, in a letter responding to her dismissal the day before, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman accused Rishi Sunak of “irresponsibility” and failing to prepare a “credible alternative plan” in the event of failure.

A demonstrator in front of a fence at Brook House Migrant Removal Centre, next to Gatwick Airport, south London, June 12, 2022. © Niklas Hallen, AFP

Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer has already warned he would back away from the plan if he became prime minister. “It’s not the right policy and it’s very expensive,” he said.

At last month’s hearing before the High Court, Home Office barrister James Eadie said there was an “urgent need for action to act as a deterrent” to those undertaking these “dangerous journeys”.

The United Nations expresses “serious concerns”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees intervened in the process, stating that Rwanda lacked an “accessible, reliable, fair and effective asylum system” and noted that it had “consistently expressed serious concerns” about this.

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The British government continued to toughen its stance on immigration. In July, London passed a law prohibiting migrants who arrive illegally in the United Kingdom from seeking asylum, regardless of their reasons for fleeing their country.

The United Nations denounced the law as contrary to international law and expressed concern that “other countries, even in Europe” might be tempted to follow suit.

The deportation of migrants to Rwanda is part of a series of actions by the British government that have met with fierce opposition from human rights activists and sometimes from members of the majority.

With Agence France-Presse

This article is adapted from its original in French

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