Court okays controversial UK deportation to Rwanda

LONDON, 19 Dec 2022:

The UK government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful, judges at London’s high court ruled today.

A deal to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda and process claims there – rather than in the UK – was first struck by the Conservative Party government’s former home secretary Priti Patel in April and subsequently maintained by her successor Suella Braverman.

It comes at a time when prime minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to clamp down on irregular immigration to the UK.

The legal defence team for the asylum seekers who brought the case to the London high court say the policy to fly asylum seekers 6,000km away from the UK is inhumane.

They point to the human rights situation in Rwanda, alleging it to be an authoritarian state with a history of torturing and killing political opponents.

Today’s court ruling came as a victory for the government, although it could yet be subject to appeals.

“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.

“On the evidence before this court, the government has made arrangements with the government of Rwanda which are intended to ensure that the asylum claims of people relocated to Rwanda are properly determined in Rwanda.

“In those circumstances, the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda is consistent with the Refugee Convention and with the statutory and other legal obligations on the government including the obligations imposed by the Human Rights Act 1998.”

The high court said, however, that Braverman had not “properly considered” the individual cases of eight claimants, adding that they must be reconsidered.

The first scheduled deportation flight was due to take off on June 14 but was blocked by legal action lodged at the European Court of Human Rights by asylum seekers and NGOs such as Care4Calais and Detention Action.

The British government has insisted that Rwanda is a safe country with a history of supporting asylum seekers.

A decision from the court on whether to permit an appeal was postponed until January.