So Rwanda is not an option. Not an option yet, if it is up to the British government.
A key part of British immigration policy, the intention to deport migrants to Rwanda to allow them to apply for asylum there, was loudly and clearly undermined by the British Supreme Court on Wednesday. It is a painful loss for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but he announced that the government wants to continue.
The five Supreme Court justices unanimously decided that Rwanda was not safe enough. They believe that there is a real danger that Rwanda will return asylum seekers to their country of origin, from which they fled. They also doubt the quality of asylum procedures in Rwanda. For example, the country has rejected all asylum requests from Afghanistan and Syria. These are countries where conflicts are clearly taking place and where the UK grants asylum to its residents in the vast majority of cases.
In his explanation, the Chief Justice noted that the UK is in many ways legally bound by the principle of non-refoulement, the rule which states that states may not return people to the country from which they came because it would pose a risk to them. . Brings. The judge said: “This is a fundamental principle of international law to which the British government has adhered repeatedly.” Next, list the range of international treaties recognized by the UK, as well as all sorts of national legal articles confirming the prohibition on the practice of refoulement.
The ruling puts pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. There have been rough proposals in response, especially from his Conservative Party. “Ignore the law and send them away the same day,” said party vice president Lee Anderson, for example. “The British people have been very patient, but now they are calling for action.”
The new Home Secretary, James Cleverly, distanced himself from this proposal. But he and Sunak are willing to go further: Sunak has announced emergency legislation to ensure the deal with Rwanda continues. It would be a complex issue, and could result in the UK not recognizing a fundamental principle of international law. “I will not accept a foreign judge stopping flights,” Sunak said. He also wants to register the agreements with Rwanda in a treaty to strengthen the legal status of reciprocal agreements.
Sunak assured the House of Commons that the “Rwanda Agreement” remains in place, and is one of the pillars of his immigration policy. So it’s a fragile foundation, and the uncertainty about it only increased after Wednesday. The plan has been hanging over the heads of tens of thousands of migrants who have received a letter stating they are eligible for deportation since the British and Rwandan governments announced their agreements in April last year.
Rwanda deal or no deal: Boat migrants continue to cross the canal
An important topic
Meanwhile, ordinary Britons essentially see an advertisement that does not become a reality. While immigration is often an important issue for them: after the dire economic situation and long waiting lists for healthcare, immigration is the third topic of concern to them.
They also see the costs incurred by the government to house migrants, while Britons themselves face difficulty finding housing. The hotel costs for migrants amount to about 8 million pounds (9.1 million euros) per day. The reason for this is the large administrative backlog in clearing current asylum applications. More than 175,000 asylum seekers are waiting for a decision in their cases, and for more than 100,000 of them, the wait has been going on for more than a year. These numbers do not include migrants who may be deported to Rwanda.
One of Sunak’s key policy promises is to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Channel by boat. Despite problems with the Rwanda Agreement, that number has declined this year. Nearly 28,000 migrants attempted to cross illegally this year, about a third fewer than this time last year. This is mainly due to agreements between the UK and Albania, whereby Albania has agreed to repatriate migrants, and the UK also sometimes provides money to Albanians to return. The number of boat migrants this year remains higher than in all years before 2022.
The question also remains as to whether the potential deportation of migrants to Rwanda will have the deterrent effect that the Conservative Party hopes to achieve. There is no evidence for this. Even senior officials at the Ministry of the Interior are skeptical about the success of this plan and whether this plan is “worth the taxpayers’ money.” But the Conservatives see this as an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the opposition Labor Party, which considers the plan a disaster and will abandon it if it comes to power. An opportunity that conservatives will not allow the court to deny them.
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