On Monday, the next part in the legal battle that has been unfolding since the highly divisive plan was unveiled in 2022 began when the British government filed its appeal of a court judgement that ruled a programme to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda was unconstitutional.
The conservative administration in Britain claims this policy would discourage the perilous journeys undertaken by thousands of asylum seekers over the English Channel by allowing them to deport anyone who arrive in the country in this manner to Rwanda.
The proposal has been contested many times by rights groups, stopping any deportations that were set to take place, and is now being considered by the Supreme Court. As the fresh appeal begins, this is everything you need to know.
In April 2022, Priti Patel, then the home secretary, unveiled the initiative in conjunction with Rwanda. Deportations to Rwanda were planned for those who arrived in the United Kingdom using “illegal, dangerous, or unnecessary methods,” such as crossing the English Channel in unsafe small boats.
The central African nation would get tens of millions of dollars from the British government in exchange. While the proposal has been widely criticised, the government has committed to execute it anyway, saying that it will discourage asylum seekers from coming to Britain.
A Home Office representative said Friday that the government is “confident in our case” while waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the appeal.
Several lawsuits were filed against the regulation until it finally reached the Supreme Court this week. Five asylum seekers from Syria, Sudan, Vietnam, and Iran who were told they would be deported to Rwanda lodged an appeal in this case after making their way to Britain by tiny boats and, in one case, a truck.
In June, the Court of Appeal overruled an earlier ruling and ruled that the proposal was illegal, which was celebrated by rights organisations. The administration quickly declared its intention to appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling, and that appeal is now being heard.
A final verdict may take many weeks or months to issue. However, opposition parties, rights groups, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have all opposed the programme from the start, and many have promised to keep fighting it in any way they can.
According to the Home Office’s annual report, the British government paid the Rwandan government at least £140 million (about $170 million) in the last year as part of the deal. Even though a court ruled in June that the scheme was illegal, Britain is nonetheless sending out deportation letters to anyone seeking refuge in the country.
Many asylum applicants have argued that Rwanda is not a safe place to live because of the country’s dismal human rights record, which the policy’s opponents believe breaches international law.
A statement released by Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Gillian Triggs last year stated that the organisation.
The Illegal Migration Bill is just one piece of a larger set of measures that will have far-reaching effects for those seeking refuge in Britain.
In a measure that has already passed both houses of Parliament and is on its way to becoming law, it is stated that anybody who enters the United Kingdom by “illegal” methods would have their asylum application considered “inadmissible.” The legislation allows them to be held indefinitely before being sent back to their home nation or a “safe third country.” The Rwandan strategy would be implemented at this point.
In principle, the approach would apply to all asylum seekers, not simply those who arrive by sea. Despite increasing fear and panic among a vulnerable population—most of whom are escaping conflict and persecution—there is no evidence to suggest the strategy will be an effective deterrent.
The majority of asylum petitions do not involve small boats. According to official statistics, out of a total of 89,398 asylum petitions in 2022, 40,302 were submitted by migrants who came in tiny boats. According to the Refugee Council’s study of the 2017 arrival statistics, almost two-thirds of people seeking refuge in the UK may expect to be granted asylum and be allowed to remain in the country.
Some of the toughest words have been directed towards Britain’s current home secretary, Suella Braverman. Her “dream” was to see an aircraft leave for Rwanda in 2022, and after the Court of Appeal judgement earlier this summer, she swore to do “whatever it takes” to see the policy implemented.
Ms. Braverman, like her predecessor, has visited proposed homes for Rwandan asylum seekers and has reaffirmed her party’s position that the proposal “will act as a powerful deterrent.”
The Labour Party, an opposition group, has spoken out against the proposal, calling it immoral. The party member in charge of domestic matters, Yvette Cooper, has been vocal in her criticism of the policy, calling it “unworkable, unethical, and extortionate.”