Supreme Court says government plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful | Politics News


The government’s Rwanda plan, devised to tackle illegal migration, has been dismissed by the Supreme Court, ending over 18 months of legal battles in UK courts.

Lord Reed announced the “unanimous” judgment from the court’s justices on Wednesday, saying those sent to the country would be at “real risk” at being returned home, whether their grounds to claim asylum were justified or not.

But the government said it “takes issue with the ruling”, and that Rwanda was “committed to its international obligations” on human rights.

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The deportation scheme, which would see those arriving in the UK illegally – including via small boats – deported to the east African nation, was first put forward by Boris Johnson in April 2022.

Successive prime ministers all claimed the policy would act as a deterrent to those seeking to cross the Channel, as well as help to break up people-smuggling gangs.

But justices said under United Nation’s refugee convention, asylum seekers had to be protected from “refoulement” – being sent back to their country – and this would not be the case in Rwanda.

Lord Reed pointed out that the Supreme Court is “required to decide” whether the policy is “lawful” – adding that it is a “legal question” and the court is “not concerned with the political debate” about the scheme.

He said the basis of the decision was made on international law. This includes the European Convention on Human Rights, but also various UN treaties.

Refugee charities have consistently called the proposal “inhumane” and said it breaks human rights laws, while opposition parties have deemed the plan a “gimmick”.

An injunction from the European Court of Human Rights stopped the first flight to Rwanda from taking off in June last year and the scheme has been embroiled in litigation ever since, meaning no asylum seekers have yet been deported to the country.

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