Portfolio of Hope

Supreme court ruling: Unlawful.

British Government: Send them away!

Rwanda is unsafe for asylum seekers, supreme court rules

Yesterday (16/11), five supreme court judges at the British Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, ruled that the Government’s Rwanda deportation policy- their plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda- is unlawful…

The policy, for which £140m of public money has already been spent, despite only one in three Briton’s being in support of it- this being in direct contrast to former Home Secretary Priti Patel who said the Labour Party and a ‘vocal minority’ are the only people celebrating the Supreme Court blocking the government’s Rwanda asylum seeker policy), was that certain people claiming asylum in the UK would not have their claims considered here, but would instead be put on a plane, against their will, and sent 4000 miles away to Rwanda, in order to claim asylum there.

Asylum Seekers to Rwanda

First proposed by Boris Johnson back in April 2022, anyone is yet to be sent to Rwanda due to concerns surrounding the countries human rights record…

Advice provided by officials to ministers in 2021, during the process of selecting a partner country for the removal of asylum seekers from the UK, advised that Rwanda had a poor human rights record. Most human rights violations were said to be linked to criticism of the Rwandan government.

There were also said to be constraints on media freedom and political activities. The most serious incident occurred in 2018, when the Rwandan police fired live ammunition at refugees protesting over cuts to food rations, killing at least 12 people.

Further worries are that the government of Rwanda have an inadequate understanding of their obligations. This might see them processing claims wrong as they aren’t well educated on policies. In the case of this happening- if an asylum claim is wrongly rejected- then, having no agreements in place with other countries under which unsuccessful asylum seekers could be removed, the government of Rwanda will remove the person ‘to a country in which they have a right to reside’, with this usually being the country from which they have fled.

Despite Rwanda’s poor track record, plans were made to send Asylum seekers there anyway. However in June 2022, the first planned deportation was blocked by a last-minute injunction from the European Court of Human Rights, barring any removals until the conclusion of legal action in Britain.

The supreme courts conclusion?

‘There are substantial grounds for believing that the removal of the claimants to Rwanda would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment. It was accordingly correct to hold that the Secretary of State’s policy is unlawful. The Secretary of State’s appeal is therefore dismissed.’

So, what does this mean for asylum seekers? Will their claims be processed here, considering that the original plan, to send them to Rwanda, is against the law?

Unfortunately not.

While the ruling will prevent the UK government from lawfully removing anyone to Rwanda, as Deputy Conservative chair Lee Anderson has openly called for, the government can simply ‘ignore the law and send them anyway’…

Dozens of Tory MPs have called for Sunak to draw up plans to leave the European convention on human rights, something which came into effect in 1953 to ensure that governments could not dehumanise and abuse individuals’ rights. The very fact that the conservatives will have to leave this in order to proceed with their plan shows that what they are doing is dehumanising and will abuse human rights, but, apparently, they don’t care. For, Rishi Sunak himself, Britain’s Prime Minister, has said that he is looking to change the law, imposing emergency legislation that will ‘confirm‘ that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers (even though it quite clearly isn’t, as the UK’s highest court has confirmed), preventing the plan from being blocked again so that it can still go ahead… In a news conference after the ruling, Sunak insisted ‘flights will be heading off in the spring as planned’.


All of this got me questioning what the point in even having the case brought in front of a supreme court was if they had every intention of doing it anyway. It also got me thinking about law itself. When one person, the Prime Minister, has the power to break international laws and impose his own laws as he so chooses, can no one else see the scary parallels that this has with a dictatorship? Where is the line drawn?

More than party politics

As a scheme which has been central to Sunak’s immigration policy, and with the upcoming election due which the conservatives are predicted to lose, as a party, the conservatives are grasping at straws, knowing that they need to do something drastic in order to keep their supporters on side. But, this is more than ‘party politics.’ This is about human rights, something which, under a Tory government, the UK seems hell-bent on ignoring…

If Rishi Sunak does go against the high court ruling and asylum seekers are deported to Rwanda anyway, it will be a very dark day for humanity.

For more information on the downfalls of the plan, visit: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/05/incoherence-and-inconsistency-the-inside-story-of-the-rwanda-deportation-plan.

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