In a landmark decision, the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled the Home Secretary’s policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda as unlawful. The policy of sending UK asylum seekers to Rwanda for claim assessment by Rwandan authorities was deemed problematic. There were substantial grounds to believe that these asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment if transported to Rwanda under the scheme.
The Supreme Court appeal focused on the legality of the Rwanda Policy. The Court of Appeal previously deemed the policy unlawful, citing evidence that suggested Rwandan authorities would not properly adjudicate asylum claims. International law contains a principle of non-refoulment, which asserts that no refugee or asylum seeker should be returned or sent to a country where they risk persecution. The Court of Appeal maintained that the policy was in breach of this well-established principle.
Upon careful consideration and review of existing evidence, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling. The evidence considered included Rwanda’s poor human rights record, the high rate of rejected asylum claims in the country, and its repeated practice of refoulement.
Following the announcement, Sunak has affirmed his commitment to the success of the Rwandan plan. He announced on X, formerly Twitter, that he had already spoken with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. “We reiterated our firm commitment to making our migration partnership work. While disappointed with the outcome, we’ll take the necessary steps to ensure we stop the boats,” said Sunak.
Nonetheless, this decision is a significant development in the UK’s asylum policy. While the full implications of the judgment are yet to be seen, the ruling nonetheless sends a strong message regarding the judiciary’s commitment to principles of international law and the rights of asylum seekers.
For more detailed information on the policy and legal scrutiny of the Rwanda policy, provided by academics from the Essex Law School, please refer to the link below: