The UK’s Supreme Court is set to make a critical decision this Wednesday on the government’s controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The ruling holds significant implications for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration, particularly in fulfilling one of his major policy pledges.
During the hearings in October, government lawyers contended that the scheme to relocate thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda, over 4,000 miles away, should proceed. They argued against the previous ruling that deemed Rwanda unsafe for asylum seekers.
Sunak’s government believes this plan will curb the influx of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats, a pressing issue for some voters. A favourable verdict could boost the government’s standing, especially with an election looming next year. Conversely, a defeat might be perceived as another setback for Sunak’s government.
Broader Implications and Legal Debates
The outcome could intensify debates within the Conservative Party, especially among those advocating for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). This issue gained attention following the recent dismissal of Suella Braverman, a vocal critic of the ECHR, as the minister overseeing this matter. The decision comes after several significant Supreme Court defeats for the government, including a landmark case against former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.
The government’s lawyers emphasized the “serious and pressing need” for the Rwanda scheme, suggesting it would deter illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK. They assured that agreements with Rwanda would protect the human rights of deported migrants. However, lawyers representing asylum seekers from various countries argued that the plan violates the ECHR and could expose them to risks, including inhumane treatment within Rwanda and potential refoulement to their home countries. The United Nations refugee agency echoes these concerns.
With the scheme being temporarily halted in June last year due to a directive from the European Court of Human Rights, the upcoming decision will determine its future.
The plan, initiated by Boris Johnson and upheld by Sunak, aims to deter dangerous Channel crossings. The ruling will be delivered by a panel of five senior judges, including the court’s president, Robert Reed, setting a pivotal course for the UK’s asylum and immigration policies.