The Supreme Court declares that Britain’s asylum policy in Rwanda is unlawful

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The UK Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, in a major blow to Rishi Sunak’s government.

Supreme Court President Lord Robert Reed said asylum seekers sent to Rwanda faced a real risk of being returned to their countries of origin without their claims being properly assessed.

“There are substantial reasons to believe that the deportation of the applicants to Rwanda would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment due to refoulement,” the Supreme Court said his judgment.

Refoulement is the forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries if they are threatened with persecution. Reed said the court made the decision unanimously.

The Rwanda deal was a textbook example of the policies of successive Conservative governments and is a central part of Sunak’s efforts to “stop the boats” and crack down on irregular immigration.

Suella Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary by Sunak this week, is a key supporter of Rwanda policy. Like other conservative right-wingers, she called for Britain to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights in the event of a negative Supreme Court ruling.

However, Reed stressed that the ECHR was not the only legal basis for the court’s decision and that the UK was bound by other treaties and domestic law.

Based on evidence from the UN Refugee Agency, the court upheld an earlier Court of Appeal decision which found that there was a real risk that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda could be deported to their countries of origin. It said this may be a violation of the UN Refugee Convention.

“The changes needed to eliminate the risk of refoulement may be implemented in the future, but there is no evidence that they will be implemented now,” Reed said.

This is a developing story

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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