UK court rules Rwanda deportation plan unlawful


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government would appeal to the UK’s top court after its plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda was declared unlawful.

The ruling by the court serves as a major blow to the prime minister’s pledge to stop asylum seekers arriving in small boats.

Under an initial 140-million-pound ($177 million) deal struck in 2022, Britain planned to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers who arrive on its shores a distance of more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to the East African country.

The government’s plan, which aims to designate Rwanda as a safe third country for asylum seekers, has faced opposition and criticism. Critics argue that the policy is inhumane and unlikely to be effective in combating human trafficking.

The Court of Appeal recently ruled, by a majority of two to one, that Rwanda cannot be considered a safe third country. Chancellor Rishi Sunak expressed his disagreement with the court’s decision in a statement, stating that the government would seek to overturn the ruling in the UK Supreme Court.

Sunak emphasized the government’s stance that it should have the authority to determine who enters the country, rather than criminal gangs. He reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that the country’s immigration policy is under its control, promising to take necessary actions to make it happen.

The court ruling is seen as a significant setback for Sunak, who is already dealing with challenges such as high inflation, increasing interest rates, and declining public support. The pressure from his party and the public to address the growing numbers of asylum seekers, which incur substantial costs for the government, adds to the challenges he faces.

Sunak has made “stop the boats” one of his five top priorities, and hopes a fall in arrivals might help his Conservative Party, trailing by about 20 points in opinion polls, pull off an unexpected win at the next national election.

The first planned Rwanda deportation flight was blocked a year ago in a last-minute ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which imposed an injunction preventing any deportations until the conclusion of legal action in Britain.

In December, the High Court ruled that the policy was lawful, but that decision was challenged by asylum seekers from several countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran, along with human rights organisations.

The Court of Appeal concluded that Rwanda’s asylum system has deficiencies that would put individuals at risk of persecution or inhumane treatment if they were sent there. This ruling undermines the government’s plan to designate Rwanda as a safe third country for asylum seekers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been a prominent advocate for the scheme, aiming to combat undocumented migration into the UK. The government argues that the program is necessary to disrupt people-smuggling networks and deter migrants from undertaking dangerous journeys across the English Channel from France.

Braverman is part of a group of politicians who supported Brexit and emphasize the need for the UK to assert control over its borders. However, she has faced criticism for using inflammatory rhetoric, including describing the arrival of migrants as an “invasion.”

The Court of Appeal’s ruling has dealt a blow to the government’s immigration policy, and it remains to be seen how the government will respond and seek alternatives to address the issue of undocumented migration.

Human rights campaigners expressed their support for the Court of Appeal’s ruling, considering it a significant victory. They have criticized the Rwanda policy as unethical and ineffective in addressing the challenges of migration.

Together with Refugees, a coalition of charities advocating for the rights of asylum-seekers, tweeted that the ruling was a “HUGE win” and emphasized the importance of offering hope rather than hostility to those seeking refuge.

The number of undocumented individuals entering Europe has been on the rise, driven by factors such as conflict, global inequality, and the climate crisis. This has further exacerbated the ongoing migrant crisis across the continent. According to the UN’s refugee agency, more than 36,000 people crossed the Mediterranean from January to March of this year, nearly double the number during the same period in 2022.

The ruling reflects the ongoing debates and challenges surrounding immigration and the need to balance national security concerns with the protection of human rights and the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

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