December 4, 2023

The British asylum agreement with Rwanda is illegal

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Camera focusing on the entrance to the High Court in London. © Kirsty Wigglesworth/AFP/DPA

A setback for the British government. It wanted to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda – thus deterring migrants from entering the country illegally across the English Channel. But nothing comes of it.

London – The British government failed in court to implement its internationally controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, regardless of their origin. The High Court in London described Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan as illegal on Wednesday and upheld the Court of Appeal decision in June. The Supreme Court stressed that there is a risk that asylum seekers in the East African country will not receive fair procedures. The court cited, among other things, reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This ruling represents another setback for the conservative government. Through the Rwanda Plan, for which an agreement was reached with the East African country, it wanted to deter migrants from entering the country irregularly in small boats across the English Channel. Last year, more than 45,000 people came to the UK this way. The number so far this year is about 27,000, which is less than last year. But the government’s promise to stop the boats has not yet been fulfilled.

According to the plan, in the future, illegal immigrants should be deported directly to Rwanda without examining their asylum application and seek protection there instead. A return to Great Britain must be ruled out. The plan was met with severe criticism at home and abroad. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned this measure and described it as a violation of international law. The bishops of England spoke of a “disgrace to Great Britain.”

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The government’s defeat in court is likely to renew calls within Britain’s ruling Conservative Party to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. It was the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that halted the only scheduled flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda with a last-minute court order. dpa