Big blow to British government as court rules Rwanda deportation scheme ‘unlawful’
A British court ruled Thursday that the Conservative government’s controversial plan to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers reaching the country on small boats on a one-way trip to Rwanda in central Africa is unlawful.
It’s a major blow to the Rishi Sunak administration’s pledge to stop migrants from making risky journeys across the English Channel to reach Europe. Home Secretary Suella Braverman called the ruling “disappointing” and said Rwanda was “safe”.
Could Rwanda Scheme Reduce Shipwrecks?
The governments of the UK and Rwanda agreed over a year back that some migrants who arrive on British soil through illegal means would be sent to the African nation, where their asylum claims would be processed – and those granted asylum would stay there rather than return to the UK.
According to the Tories, the policy will severely impact the business model of human smugglers who ferry desperate migrants on dangerous journeys using small boats often incapable of carrying the large number of people they usually transport – leading to deadly shipwrecks.
The Plan Was Once Ruled Legal
Under an initial $177 million agreement struck last year, the British government planned to send scores of asylum seekers almost 6,500 km away to Africa. But no one has yet been deported there. Last December, Britain’s High Court ruled the policy is legal.
But the court allowed a group of claimants to challenge that decision on issues such as whether the scheme is unfair and whether Rwanda would be a safe country. In a split two-to-one ruling on Thursday, three Court of Appeal judges said Rwanda could not be considered safe.
“Will Do Whatever It Takes” To Reverse The Decision
The court ruled deficiencies in the Rwanda scheme meant there were substantial grounds for believing those sent there would be returned to their home countries where they could face “persecution or other inhumane treatment.”
Braverman said the government “will do whatever it takes … to stop the boats,” adding they would appeal the court’s decision. Nevertheless, even if the government succeeds with an appeal to the UK’s top court, deportation flights will possibly not start this year.