May 27, 2024

New Law in Britain: Sunak's Rwanda Life Belt

A new extradition law has been brought in to save the election of the UK Prime Minister. But can the law really stop illegal immigration to the British Isles in the long term? Experts doubt this.
Anyway, Rishi Sunak is under a lot of pressure internally. Inflation and healthcare shortages make for disastrous voter turnout in an election year. Local elections on May 2 could spark fresh insurgency in an already openly divided conservative Tory party.
Much of Sunak's political career hinges on whether he can keep his promise to the British to block boats used by smugglers to ferry refugees and migrants across the English Channel to UK shores. The Rwandan law is intended to help with this.

Despite criticism, the British government wants to deport migrants without valid documents to Rwanda – regardless of their origins. It is a lucrative business for Rwanda.

April 5, 2024 | 02:45 minutes

This is also a prelude to Sunak's appearance on Monday before the crucial parliamentary session begins. Sunak says: The moment the King signs the Act, it begins. 200 civil servants are in the entry level. 150 judges are ready and 25 courtrooms have already been allotted. Charter flights have been booked – and the first flight to Rwanda will take off in ten to twelve weeks.

Refugees and migrants who arrive in the British Isles without a visa will be deported to Rwanda, 6,600 kilometers away in East Africa, which Britain classifies as a safe third country. That is where they can submit their asylum application – to Rwanda. The British government is trying to keep a key Brexit promise: lower immigration.

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But courts have previously blocked such deportations. In November 2023, the British Supreme Court declared the regulation untenable. With the new Rwandan law, Sunak now wants to overturn the ruling. It ends a months-long ping-pong between the lower house and the upper house — most of which expressed concerns about the law and wanted repeated changes — that lasted into the night.

Sunak also now makes it clear that he wants to ignore interim orders from the European Court of Human Rights. Nevertheless, he did not see his country in conflict with international law.

Funerals begin in Rwanda: 30 years ago, Hutu militias killed at least 800,000 people. The international community did not intervene.

April 7, 2024 | 02:44 minutes

Experts don't know how big the deterrent effect of the new Rwanda law really is. Young migrants on the French side say on television microphones that – once in Rwanda – they will go back to Europe.

Peter Walsh, a migration researcher at the University of Oxford, told ZDF:

A few hundred deportations aren't enough – as of last year, around 30,000 migrants have been given away.

Only when long-haul flights with asylum seekers actually take off for Africa will Sunak believe he has a chance of winning the coming election. A whole fleet, however, must be constantly employed to produce the effect desired by the British Government.

Wolf-Christian Ulrich is a reporter at the ZDF studios in London