Tuesday, November 21, 2023
On November 15, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom rendered a judgment in a case challenging the UK's plan to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. The full decision is linked at the word "judgment" in the preceding sentence.
Here is the court's framing of the issue:
1. This appeal is concerned with the Secretary of State’s policy that certain people claiming asylum in the United Kingdom should not have their claims considered here, but should instead be sent to Rwanda in order to claim asylum there. Their claims will then be decided by the Rwandan authorities, with the result that if their claims are successful, they will be granted asylum in Rwanda.
You read that right. The UK wasn't looking to employ an Australian-type system where people would be housed off-country until found eligible for UK asylum. They literally wanted to send people to Rwanda where the only hope was to get asylum in Rwanda. Never the UK.
That seems like a new tactic. EXCEPT IT ISN'T. As the UK Supreme Court notes in paragraphs 95-100, from 2013-2018, Israel had an agreement with Rwanda under which persons from Eritrea and Sudan who sought asylum in Israel were removed to Rwanda in order for their claims to be processed there. That program was ultimately found unlawful by the Israeli Supreme Court.
As for the UK plan, the high court affirmed the decision of the appellate court before it:
73. We have come to the conclusion that the Court of Appeal was entitled, on the evidence before it, to consider that there were substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement in the event that they were removed to Rwanda. Indeed, having been taken through the evidence, we agree with the conclusion of the Court of Appeal.
149. ... It was accordingly correct to hold that the Secretary of State's policy is unlawful.
As WaPo reports, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the ruling was "not the outcome we wanted." He's determined to find another way to deport asylum seekers and "stop the boats."