UK’s Rwanda deportation plan ruled unlawful
A scheme by the UK government to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, the British Court of Appeal found on Thursday.
The decision overturned a previous ruling by the High Court that the Central African nation could be considered a "safe third country" for refugees. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Sunak's Conservative government signed a deal with Kigali last year to deport thousands of migrants who arrive in the UK illegally, to Rwanda, more than 4,000 miles away.
In June of last year, the first flight chartered to carry asylum seekers to Rwanda was grounded due to an injunction issued by the European Court of Human Rights prohibiting any deportations pending the final outcome of judicial proceedings.
However, London's High Court ruled in December that the British government's policy was legal.
Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan, and Albania who arrived in the UK from France in small boats, as well as one charity, Asylum Aid, filed a petition with Britain's Court of Appeal, questioning the policy's legality.
Their lawyers claimed that the government's policy violates human rights conventions and that Rwanda lacks the capacity to deal with the migrants.
In Thursday’s ruling, the court said it allowed the appeal on the issue of whether Rwanda is a safe third country and determined the “deficiencies in the asylum system” in the republic are such that there are “substantial grounds” to believe that persons sent there will be sent back to the very countries where they face persecution.
The court stated in a three-judge majority decision that "the High Court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed and that unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.”
The British Home Office said on Monday that deporting each asylum seeker to Rwanda or a third country would cost an estimated £169,000 ($215,000).