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The High Court in London ruled on Monday, December 19, “legal” the highly controversial plan of the British government to deport asylum seekers who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda. A decision that comes at a time when the number of Channel crossings by migrants has never been so high.
“The Court found that it is lawful for the UK government to put in place arrangements to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be considered in Rwanda rather than the UK”, according to a summary of the judgment published by the High Court. It considered that the provisions planned by the government did not contravene the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees.
“Building a New Life”
Rwanda welcomed this decision, through the voice of government spokesperson Yolande Makolo. “We welcome this decision and are ready to offer asylum seekers and migrants the opportunity to build a new life in Rwanda”she said, speaking of a measure “positive” to solve the global migration crisis.
In April, Boris Johnson’s government reached an agreement with Kigali to deport asylum seekers who arrived illegally on British soil to Rwanda. A policy intended to discourage crossings of the English Channel in small boats.
No deportation has yet taken place – a first flight scheduled for June was canceled after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – but the government of Rishi Sunak is continuing this policy.
The decision handed down on Monday concerns the appeal of migrant aid associations, such as Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid, as well as the Public and Commercial Services Union (or PCS), the public and commercial services union.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees even intervened in the case, arguing that “the minimum components of a reliable and fair asylum system” are lacking in Rwanda and that such a policy would lead to “serious risk of violations” of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees.
The Conservatives have made the fight against illegal immigration, which was a Brexit promise, one of their priorities. But migrants have never been so numerous to cross the Channel. Around 45,000 arrived on the English coast in 2022, compared to 28,500 in 2021. And four migrants died attempting the crossing on December 14, just over a year after the death of twenty-seven people.
“Immoral and Illegal”
In September, before the start of the hearing, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka ruled on the deportation of migrants to Rwanda “not only immoral but illegal”. He urged the Interior Ministry to “Abandon its hostile approach towards refugees”. For the Care4Calais association, this project is ” cruel “ :
“Refugees who have endured the horrors of war, torture and persecution will now face the immense trauma of deportation and an unknown future. This will cause them immeasurable fear, anguish and distress. »
At the hearing, government lawyers claimed that the agreement with Rwanda ensured that those who would be deported there would benefit from a procedure for determining their refugee status. “safe and effective”.
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In early October, far-right interior minister Suella Braverman shared her ” dream “ for Christmas : ” See (…) a plane take off for Rwanda. » “I sincerely wish that we will be able to implement the Rwanda program”she said in an interview with Times Saturday. Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated that his government would resume this project, on the occasion of the announcement of a range of measures intended to solve the crisis of the asylum system, currently overwhelmed.
His message to migrants is ” light “according to M.me Braveman: “If you come here (…) illegally on small boats, breaking our rules, you will not be entitled to be housed here indefinitely at the taxpayer’s expense. There will be a very quick response when you arrive here. Detention followed by deportation. “We can legitimately wonder if this international framework is adapted to the situation when we are witnessing a global migration crisis”she said again to the Times.
It would be “unforgivable if we don’t fix this problem” migrants, said the minister, while Labor is at the top of the opposition. “Part of the Brexit vote was about migration, controlling our borders and returning sovereignty over who comes into our country”she admitted, before acknowledging a failure: the government did not “not regained control” borders.