British justice on Monday gave the green light to the deportation to Rwanda of asylum seekers who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom, a highly controversial project that the government wants to deploy as soon as possible. The Conservatives have made the fight against illegal immigration, one of the Brexit promises, one of their priorities. But never before have so many migrants crossed the English Channel on small boats. Since the start of the year, around 45,000 have thus arrived on the English coast, compared to 28,526 in 2021. And four migrants, including a teenager, lost their lives attempting the crossing on December 14, a little over a year. after the death of 27 people in similar circumstances.
A first flight canceled last June
In April, the government of Boris Johnson concluded an agreement with Kigali to deport to Rwanda asylum seekers, regardless of their origin, who arrived illegally on British soil. A policy intended to discourage Channel crossings in small craft, but which has been widely criticized and challenged in court.
“The court concluded that it is lawful for the UK government to put in place arrangements to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be considered in Rwanda rather than in the UK,” according to a summary of the judgment published by the High Court in London. It considered that the provisions planned by the government do not contravene the Geneva Convention on refugees.
No evictions have yet taken place: a first flight scheduled for June was canceled after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) who called for a thorough review of this policy. Justice having rendered its decision, the government of Rishi Sunak now wants to move quickly. “We have always maintained that this policy is legal and today the court confirmed it,” reacted Interior Minister Suella Braverman.
The very right-wing boss of the “Home Office”, who had expressed her “dream” of seeing migrants deported to Rwanda, highlighted her desire to implement this project “as soon as possible”. “And we are ready to defend ourselves again against any legal action,” said Suella Braverman, after admitting to the Times on Saturday the government’s failure to keep the promise to regain “control” of the borders.
Justice, on the other hand, asked the Ministry of the Interior to review its copy concerning eight migrants who opposed their expulsion to Rwanda. The “Home Office” has not sufficiently examined their personal situations to determine whether there are elements concerning them which would oppose their deportation to Rwanda.
Opponents of the project greeted the judgment with disappointment and anger. Among the associations at the origin of this legal action, Care4Calais, whose founder Clare Moseley, expressed its determination that “no refugee be forcibly expelled” in Rwanda. The association, like Detention Action, plans to appeal this decision.
Paul O’Connor, representative of the civil servants’ union PCS, considered that the government project remains “morally reprehensible and totally inhuman”, believing that an appeal must “seriously” be considered. The Refugee Council has slammed this “cruel” policy of equating “people seeking safety with human commodities” as damaging to the UK’s reputation as a country of human rights. The Labor opposition for its part judged the project “impractical”, “contrary to morality” and “exorbitantly expensive”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees even intervened in the case before the High Court, arguing that “the minimum components of a reliable and fair asylum system” are lacking in Rwanda and that such a policy would lead to “serious risks of violations” of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees.