On Monday, the British judiciary gave the green light to expel asylum seekers who arrived in the United Kingdom illegally to Rwanda in a highly controversial project, and the government wants to implement it as soon as possible.
The Conservatives have made combating illegal immigration a priority and one of the promises made in the Brexit framework.
However, the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats reaches unprecedented levels. Since the beginning of the year, about 45,000 migrants have arrived on the English coast, compared to 28,526 in 2021. Four migrants, including a teenager, died trying to cross on December 14, shortly after 27 people died in similar circumstances.
And last April, the government of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson concluded an agreement with Kigali to expel asylum seekers, whatever their nationalities, after their illegal arrival on British soil. This policy aims to discourage migrants from crossing the Channel in small boats, but it is criticized and is the subject of judicial prosecutions.
Studying their application in Rwanda
“The Court concluded that the British Government was entitled to take measures to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda and to have their application examined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom,” a summary of the London High Court’s decision read. The court held that the measures decided by the British government did not contravene the Geneva Refugee Convention.
Cancellation of the first flight
No expulsion has yet taken place. A first flight, scheduled for June, was canceled following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights that called for an in-depth study of this policy. After the issuance of the British court’s decision on Monday, the government of current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to accelerate the pace.
Interior Minister Soila Braverman, who leans far to the right, stressed her intention to implement the project “as soon as possible” and revealed her “dream” of seeing the migrants deported to Rwanda.
“We are ready to defend ourselves in the face of any new judicial action,” the minister stressed.
On the other hand, the judiciary asked the Ministry of the Interior to review its decision regarding eight immigrants who objected to their expulsion to Rwanda. The court found that the Ministry of the Interior had not adequately examined the personal situation of these individuals to see if there were any elements in their particular case that would conflict with their deportation to Rwanda.
Opponents of the project received the court’s decision with disappointment and anger. Claire Moseley, founder of Care for Calais, one of the associations behind this complaint before the court, confirmed her determination to prevent “the expulsion of any refugee by force” to Rwanda. Like Detention Action, this association intends to appeal the decision.
Whereas, the Employees Union PCS (which has a presence, especially in the ranks of the border police), considered that the government project was “morally reprehensible and absolutely inhuman,” considering that the issued decision should be “seriously” appealed.
The “Revoji Council” strongly criticized this “evil” policy, which equates “people looking for security with commodities”, and considered that it harms the reputation of the United Kingdom as a country that respects human rights.
Amnesty International said it was “outrageous” after the victims of last week that “the government refuses to acknowledge that the more cruelty, retribution and deterrence it puts desperate people, who have no choice but to reach safety in the UK, at greater risk.”
“It’s too expensive.”
For its part, the labor opposition considered the project “immoral” and “extremely expensive”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) intervened before the Supreme Court in the context of this file, stressing that Rwanda lacks “the minimum components of a reliable and fair asylum system” and such a policy would lead to “dangerous possibilities of violating” the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees.