UK High Court rules deportations of asylum seekers to Rwanda legal

Stand Up To Racism activists outside the High Court of Justice for England and Wales in London on December 19, 2022.

Disappointment on the side of NGOs, relief on the side of the British government: Monday, December 19, the High Court of Justice for England and Wales concluded that London’s decision to deport to Rwanda people seeking asylum in the Kingdom United, was “legal”. The fact that their asylum applications are examined by the Rwandan authorities and not by the British authorities, is also considered legal.

As the British government has made arrangements with Kigali for asylum claims to be ” properly ” examined in Rwanda, judges ruled the UK was in breach of neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor its commitments under the Human Rights Act 1998 – a law incorporating the 1953 European Convention on Human Rights in British law.

In April, the Conservative government of Boris Johnson shocked migrant aid groups and opposition parties by announcing a partnership with Kigali to send asylum seekers to Rwanda on the sole grounds that they had arrived “illegally” in the United Kingdom, without a visa, by crossing the English Channel in a rubber boat.

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This policy was championed by then Home Secretary Priti Patel for its supposed deterrent effect, and designed as a key part of the national scheme to halt the perilous Channel crossings in “small boats”. But it was denounced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Church – who considers it “immoral” – and even, according to indiscretions in the media, by Prince Charles (who became king in September) who would have judged him “appalling”.

For Rwanda, an economic opportunity

“I welcome the decision of the High Court, (…) we have always defended the legality of our agreement with Rwanda”, responded Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday. More pragmatic than his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, Mr. Sunak, who himself comes from a family of immigrants – his parents are of Indian origin –, however, has taken up the defense of their “Rwandan politics”.

Read also: Rwandan President Paul Kagame defends the deportation of illegal migrants from the UK to Rwanda

In Kigali, the deputy government spokesman, Alain Mukuralinda, talks about “satisfactory decision. We see people dying by drowning in the Mediterranean, or victims of human trafficking. The High Court decision shows an evolution in how to solve this problem”. According to this official, the local authorities had several months to prepare, “so that if tomorrow a plane arrives, Rwanda is ready to welcome the first migrants”. The same hotels, the same terms of the agreement are still in place. “We signed a convention, we are ready to apply it, we are ready to improve it, we are now waiting for it to be applied on the other side. »

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