The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that the government’s proposed policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful, giving a massive blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s immigration policy and major election pledge before a vote is expected next year.
The court, in a unanimous judgment, rejected the government’s appeal against an earlier ruling that migrants could not be sent to Rwanda because it could not be considered a safe third country.
Under the policy earlier blocked for several years by legal challenges, people who have arrived in the UK from dangerous countries would be transported to Rwanda rather than allowed to claim asylum in the UK.
In its verdict, the Court pointed out that the international evidence on Rwanda’s record gave serious cause for concern about the integrity of the Rwandan asylum process, the independence of its judiciary, and the trustworthiness of its guarantees given that it has previously violated international human rights agreements to which it has committed.
The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed, while reading the judgment, said the judges agreed unanimously to point out evidence that under a previous similar deal with Israel, asylum seekers sent to Rwanda by the Israeli government were clandestinely moved to a neighboring country where they were at risk of forceful return, that is, being dispatched back to the countries they had fled.
The outcome of the Rwanda case is critically important to the future of Rishi Sunak’s conservative government, which has put curbing illegal immigration and cutting the number of asylum claims at the center of its pitch for the next election.
The ruling comes a day after the sacked Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, released a letter accusing the prime minister of breaking an agreement to insert clauses into UK laws that would have blocked off legal challenges under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.