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UK Supreme Court Scrutinises Rwanda Migration Policy

The Conservative government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda has now reached the Supreme Court.

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Rwanda Plan at Risk

Five judges in the UK Supreme Court will decide if the Conservative party’s plans to deport migrants to Rwanda can continue.

The court proceedings follow a previous ruling in July from the Court of Appeal, which found that the policy was potentially unlawful.

Prior to this ruling, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had successfully grounded the first flight due to leave for Rwanda in June earlier this year. No flights to Rwanda carrying asylum seekers have left since.

This is despite almost £120 million of taxpayer’s money having been spent on the scheme.

“Safe” Country Concerns

Central to the controversy is the UK government’s judgement of Rwanda as a “safe” third country, and the ethical and legal concerns around sending asylum seekers there.

Specifically, it has been argued that sending migrants to Rwanda could be a breach of article 3 of the European convention on human rights. Among the concerns raised are Rwanda’s questionable record of human rights, discriminatory asylum system, and the risk that migrants could end up being sent back to their country of origin.

Among the parties giving evidence in the Supreme Court this week include the The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has stated that “The assurances and commitments given by the government of Rwanda do not suffice to establish an accessible, reliable or fair asylum system in Rwanda.”

Next Steps

It is not expected that the Supreme Court will reach a concrete ruling until November.

If the Supreme Court rules the policy as being unlawful, it is unlikely that it will ever go ahead again, with Labour already having pledged to scrap the scheme if they win the general election.

However, Robert Jenrick, the current minister for immigration, has put forth the possibility of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, which could still make carrying out the policy possible.

Rishi Sunak has also pledged to start flights to Rwanda as soon as possible if the government win their appeal in the Supreme Court. He told the Conservative Party conference last week: “I’m confident that once flights start going regularly to Rwanda, the boats will stop coming.”

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