Britain’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda ruled lawful by court


The UK’s controversial policy of deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda was ruled lawful by the country’s top court on Monday.

A group of non-governmental organisations, asylum seekers and a public sector union had questioned the legality of the scheme whereby asylum seekers believed to have entered the UK illegally would be sent to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed .

The court found the government competent to make these arrangements. But it also criticized Home Secretary Suella Braverman for failing to properly assess the circumstances of individuals to be relocated under the program.

Braverman “has to decide whether there is anything about the particular circumstances of each person which means that his asylum application should be decided in the UK, or whether there are other reasons why he should not be relocated to Rwanda,” said Lord Justice Lewis in his judgement.

She “did not adequately consider the circumstances of the eight individual plaintiffs whose cases we reviewed,” the judge continued. Those eight cases will be sent back to the Home Office for reassessment for Braverman, he said.

The UK government’s partnership with the East African country has been heavily criticized since it was announced by former UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in April.

She was backed by ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his successor Liz Truss and current leader Rishi Sunak, as well as most of the ruling Conservative Party.

But she has a slew of critics, including dozens of refugee rights groups, international organizations, British lawmakers on both sides of the House of Commons, the head of the Anglican Church and some Rwandan opposition politicians.

The first flight to Rwanda was due to take off on June 14, but the European Court of Human Rights intervened at the eleventh hour, and months of legal challenges have stalled the program in the months that followed.

The UK says it will pay Rwanda £120 million ($145 million) over the next five years to fund the scheme.

Braverman welcomed Monday’s ruling and said in a statement that she was “committed to making this partnership work.”

“My focus remains on moving the policy forward as quickly as possible and we stand ready to defend against further legal challenges,” she said.

But the ruling was met with disappointment from activists, who have long claimed the plan is unethical and ineffective.

“We are very disappointed with the outcome of this case. If the Government proceeds with these harmful plans, it would damage the UK’s reputation as a country that values ​​human rights and undermine our commitment to provide security for those fleeing conflict and oppression, as set out in the Refugee Convention of 1951,” Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said in a statement.

“Treating people seeking safety like human cargo and shipping them to another country is a cruel policy that will cause great human suffering,” Solomon added. “The scheme is fundamentally wrong and unworkable in practice.”

The number of people making perilous voyages across the English Channel in small boats has skyrocketed in recent years, and 2022 saw record highs again, despite the government’s insistence that Rwanda’s policy would act as a deterrent.

It remains to be seen whether the policy will work effectively now; The prospect of individual entitlements in favor of migrants still threatens to derail Sunak’s plans to launch the policy.

But the ruling will be welcomed by the government, which has lost popularity and, according to opinion polls, has lost the confidence of most voters on a number of issues.

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