Britain’s High Court ruled on Monday, December 19, 2022 that a plan to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is legal but the British government must consider the circumstances of each case before deporting anyone.
This judgment has set the controversial policy up for further legal battles.
Eight asylum-seekers, aid groups and a border officials’ union filed lawsuits to stop the Conservative government from acting on a deportation agreement with Rwanda that is intended to deter migrants from trying to reach the U.K. on risky journeys across the English Channel.
“The court has concluded that it is lawful for the government to make arrangements for relocating asylum-seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom.”Clive Lewis
Clive Lewis is one of the two justices who made the ruling.
The judges said the policy did not breach Britain’s obligations under the U.N. Refugee Convention or other international agreements.
However, they added that the government “must decide if there is anything about each person’s particular circumstances” which meant they should not be sent to Rwanda, and had failed to do that for the eight claimants in the case.
The British and Rwandan governments welcomed the ruling.
“Our groundbreaking migration partnership with Rwanda will provide individuals relocated with support to build new lives there, while disrupting the business model of people-smuggling gangs putting lives at risk through dangerous and illegal small boat crossings.”U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Rwandan government Spokeswoman, Yolande Makolo, disclosed that the court ruling was “a positive step in our quest to contribute innovative, long-term solutions to the global migration crisis.”
Rwandan opposition lawmaker, Frank Habineza, suggested that it was wrong to send migrants to Rwanda, a densely populated nation with limited resources.
Judges Set Date For Another Hearing
The judges have set another hearing in the case for January 16, 2023. Refugee groups said they would consult their lawyers about challenging the ruling.
Head of the Charity Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, opined that the Rwanda plan was “a cruel policy that will cause great human suffering.”
Paul O’Connor of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents border workers, called the government’s policy “morally reprehensible.”
Christina Marriott, Director of Policy at the British Red Cross, said “the offshoring of human beings” would “do little to prevent people from risking their lives to reach safety.”
“The government should instead take action to provide safe routes, ensure timely and correct decisions are made once people are in system, and that people are treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.”Christina Marriott
Britain has paid Rwanda more than 120 million pounds ($146 million) under the deal which was struck in April, but no one has yet been sent to the country.