Britain’s High Court judges are poised to give a verdict on Monday, December 19, 2022, on whether the U.K. government’s controversial policy to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is legal.
Several asylum-seekers, aid groups and a border officials’ union are putting in efforts to stop the Conservative government from acting on a deportation agreement with Rwanda that aims to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats.
Under the agreement, the Britain plans to send some migrants who arrive in the country as stowaways or in boats to the East African country, where their asylum claims would be processed.
Applicants who are granted asylum would stay in Rwanda rather than returning to the U.K.
Britain has paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($146 million) under the deal which was struck in April, but no one has yet been sent to the country.
The U.K. was compelled to cancel the first deportation flight at the last minute in June after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the plan carried “a real risk of irreversible harm.”
The British government is determined to continue with the policy, arguing that it will deter people, especially trafficking gangs who convey migrants on hazardous journeys across the English Channel’s busy shipping lanes.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has described the Channel crossings as an “invasion of our southern coast” said it would be “unforgivable” if the government did not halt the journeys.
“The Brexit vote was in part about migration, control over our borders and repatriating sovereignty on the question of who comes into our country. This is an egregious example of how we haven’t taken back control.”Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Human rights groups defend that it is illegal, unworkable and inhumane to send people thousands of miles to a country they are unwilling to live in.
These groups also state Rwanda’s poor human rights record, including allegations of torture and killings of government opponents as reasons for their stance.
The U.K. government has argued that while Rwanda was the site of a genocide that killed more than 800,000 people in 1994, the country has since built a reputation for stability and economic progress.
However, Critics say that stability comes at the cost of political repression.
Fewer Asylum-Seekers In Britain Than Many European Nations
The U.K. receives fewer asylum-seekers than many European nations, including Germany, France and Italy.
Nonetheless, thousands of migrants from around the world travel to northern France each year in hopes of crossing the Channel.
Some migrants want to reach the U.K. because they have friends or family there, others because they speak English or because they assume that it is easy to gain employment.
The government wants to deport all migrants who arrive by unauthorized routes, and aims to strike Rwanda-style deals with other countries.
Critics argue that there are few authorized routes for seeking asylum in the U.K., other than those set up for people from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
An escalation in arrivals and a U.K. bureaucratic backlog, worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, has led to many Channel migrants languishing in overcrowded processing centers, where there have been outbreaks of chronic diseases.