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UK Government Will Challenge the Supreme Court’s Rwanda Asylum Decision

The Rwanda deal ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal has been met with opposition after Rishi Sunak’s pledge to stop the boats. According to Sunak (UK’s prime minister), the administration would look to appeal the court decision that found the plans to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda unlawful.


The administration will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, as Sunak has declared that he "fundamentally disagrees" with the outcome. Charities have protested that Rwandan conditions are unsafe for asylum seekers.


The Rwanda asylum plan began in April 2022, when it was announced some asylum seekers would be sent to Rwanda with one-way tickets. This action is a result of the UK government’s desire to deter people coming into the country by illegal means.


After landing in Rwanda, asylum seekers could potentially be granted refugee status to remain in the country or apply to settle in Rwanda on other grounds. If not, they would have to seek asylum in another country.


The plan was never carried out and as of now, no asylum seeker has been sent to Rwanda.  An original flight—scheduled in June 2022—was canceled after legality issues. However, this has not stopped the case from progressing to the High Court, and now the Court of Appeal where it’s been ruled Rwanda has not given enough safeguards proving its status as a ‘safe third country.’


The nonprofit that brought the lawsuit applauded the decision as there have been doubts expressed about Rwanda's safety. According to a representative for Asylum Aid, the verdict vindicates the importance of the rule of law and basic fairness.


However, Mr. Sunak asserts that despite respecting the court's ruling, he will still take action  to dismantle criminal organizations that run small boat crossings.


Many individuals have arrived in the UK via the English Channel, a route the government has attempted to deter refugees from. Below shows a chart of the number of migrants detected on boats coming in crossing the English Channel for this week.


An unprecedented number of people—over 45,700 —have entered the UK through this route to many politicians’ dismay. 


The Rwanda scheme, sending refugees to Rwanda instead, has no limit for the number of people potentially deported. In October 2022, yet another plane was scheduled to take asylum seekers to Rwanda, but the airline withdrew from the contract following campaigning by refugee charities. 


The Rwandan government has received £140 million from the UK thus far for the programme, but no ultimate cost has been disclosed.


According to an economic effect analysis done for the government's Illegal Migration Bill, it would cost £63,000 more to send each individual to a third country like Rwanda than to keep them in the UK.


However, in response to the most recent court decision, Sunak has asserted that Rwanda "is a safe country" and added that the government should decide who enters the UK, "not criminal gangs" (a reference to human traffickers operating boats across the English Channel).



The case will now be taken to the Supreme Court where a ruling will dictate what happens next and until then, no plans are finalized to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.


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