One-way ticket to Rwanda instead of refuge in the UK? What sounds like a convenient solution for the Conservative government is illegal, according to the UK’s highest court.
The British government has failed in court with its internationally controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda regardless of their origin. The Supreme Court in London called Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan unlawful on Wednesday and upheld a June Court of Appeal decision. The Supreme Court emphasized that there is a risk that asylum seekers in the East African country will not receive a fair procedure. The court cited, among other things, reports from the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
The verdict is the culmination of a tough legal dispute. The Court of Appeal ruled in June that Rwanda cannot be classified as a safe third country and that an asylum procedure there does not provide sufficient protection against deportation to the country of origin. This overturned a first instance decision by the High Court, which had declared the plan to be legally compliant. Asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania had sued against this.
One-way ticket to Rwanda
The conservative government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appealed against this. With the Rwanda plan, for which an agreement was concluded with the East African country, she 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. Although the number so far this year, at around 27,000, is lower than last year, the government’s promise to stop the boats is not yet considered to have been fulfilled.
According to the plan, irregular migrants should in future be deported directly to Rwanda without examining an asylum application and instead seek protection there. This was met with strong criticism at home and abroad. The United Nations refugee agency condemned the action as a breach of international law. England’s bishops spoke of a “disgrace for Great Britain”. There are also doubts as to whether the hoped-for deterrent effect would actually occur.
The Supreme Court ruling is likely to spark renewed calls for Britain to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The judges of the Court of Appeal had based their argument on the convention. It was also the European Court of Human Rights that issued an interim order stopping the only planned flight with asylum seekers to Rwanda.
A role model for German asylum policy?
Britain’s actions are also being followed in Germany – and the court decision is likely to have an impact on the debate here. In the struggle to deal with the many refugees and migrants who come to the EU and ultimately to Germany, primarily via the Mediterranean, there were calls for asylum procedures to be outsourced to third countries.
Last week, at the urging of the Prime Minister, the federal government confirmed that it wanted to examine asylum procedures outside Europe. The federal-state resolution does not go into detail here. However, the SPD prime ministers made it clear that they could only imagine that asylum applications would be checked before entry. A one-way ticket to Rwanda, as Britain is planning, is not up for debate.
Italy recently concluded an agreement with Albania with the intention of establishing two centers in Albania to receive migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. People rescued by Italian authorities’ ships are to be taken to Albania to undergo their asylum procedure. Only people whose asylum application is approved should then be brought to Italy.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.