AP/LONDON — The government’s proposal to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda is scheduled to be decided upon by the highest court in Britain on Wednesday. The outcome could either support or contradict Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration’s divisive core policy.
A ruling on the Conservative government’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling that stopped the deportations will be handed down by five justices on the U.K. Supreme Court.
A win, a loss, or a mixed verdict were among the “options for possible scenarios” that the government claimed to have prepared.
The story started when Britain and Rwanda agreed in April 2022 to transfer some migrants who enter the country illegally or in small boats to the East African nation so that their asylum claims could be handled there. Asylum seekers would remain in Rwanda instead of going back to the United Kingdom.
The government of Britain claims that the policy will disrupt the people-smuggling gangs’ business model and discourage individuals from jeopardising their lives to cross one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Human rights organisations, refugee advocacy groups, and opposition politicians claim the plan is impractical and unethical.
While the plan has been contested in court, no one has been sent to Rwanda. When the European Court of Human Rights intervened in June 2022, the first deportation flight was abruptly halted.
The Rwanda plan is legal, the High Court in London ruled in December, but before sending anyone on a plane, the government must take into account the particulars of each case.
In June, the Court of Appeal upheld a challenge brought forth by individuals seeking asylum from Syria, Vietnam, and Iran. The plan was declared illegal by the court due to Rwanda’s non-qualification as a “safe third country” and the possibility of migrant returns to their home countries.
The government contested that in the Supreme Court, claiming in a hearing held last month that it had carefully considered the risks and would make sure Rwanda’s government upholds its commitment to safeguarding the rights of migrants.
The losing party may file an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, but Wednesday’s ruling will be the last one in British courts. Even if the government prevails on Wednesday, deportations are unlikely to start for weeks or even months due to the possibility of additional legal action.
A large portion of Europe and the United States are grappling with how to best handle the influx of migrants fleeing oppression, war, and violence as well as the disastrous droughts and floods brought on by global warming.
Compared to many other European countries, such as Germany, France, and Italy, the United Kingdom receives fewer asylum seekers. Every year, thousands of migrants attempt to cross the Channel by travelling to northern France. With a vow to “stop the boats,” Sunak
This year’s total of migrants who have crossed the Channel is expected to be lower than the 46,000 who did so in 2022, having crossed over 27,300 times so far. The government claims that demonstrates the effectiveness of its strict strategy, but others point to other variables like the climate.
Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked by Sunak on Monday for making a number of rude remarks that went against the official line, was a supporter of the Rwanda policy. Weeks prior to her dismissal, she referred to immigrants as a “hurricane” bound for Britain, labelled homelessness as a “lifestyle choice,” and charged that law enforcement had been overly forgiving of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
If the Rwandan plan is blocked, Braverman has demanded that the United Kingdom withdraw from both the European Convention on Human Rights and its court. That’s less likely now that she’s gone.
On his third day in office, James Cleverly, the new home secretary, will be put to the test by a court decision that goes against the government.
If the Rwanda plan is successful, the U.K. government says it hopes to reach similar deportation agreements with other nations. It makes the case that a number of other European nations are thinking about implementing comparable plans, with the European Union looking into establishing processing hubs to screen immigrants as they enter the continent.
Albania and Italy recently came to an agreement whereby the Balkan nation will temporarily house and process some of the thousands of migrants who arrive in Italy.
But unlike the British plan, it would be a round trip. Successful asylum seekers would be allowed to resettle in Italy rather than Albania.