UK Supreme Court strikes down policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda; says East African country unsafe

The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom on Wednesday struck down a government proposal to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying the East African country lacks safety guarantees to prevent refugees from being sent back home where they would face persecution. 

The judgement thwarts a key policy aim of the Conservative government, now led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which has been trying to curtail illegal immigration into Britain. It was proposed last year and immediately faced pushback from Labour and other opposition elements as crude and unlawful.The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the Home Secretary’s appeal and upheld the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the Rwanda policy was unlawful, a summary of the judgment that was posted on the Supreme Court’s website shortly after 10:00 a.m. local time said. 

“This is because there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda,” the judgment said. Lord Reed and Lord Lloyd-Jones give a joint judgment with which the other members of the Court agree.

The Supreme Court’s judgment focused primarily on the grounds of appeal concerning refoulement and extant European Union regulations. Some of the asylum seekers were granted permission to cross-appeal on two other grounds, but given the court’s conclusion on the refoulement ground, it is unnecessary for the court to determine them, the judgment added. 

It came a day after former Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned that the judgement would be unfavourable to Mr Sunak’s government and would be devastating to the UK Conservatives in the next election because it would take all the party’s policies back to “square one.” Ms Braverman’s warning came in a letter she sent to Mr Sunak a day after the prime minister fired her from office over her criticism of police’s mild handling of pro-Palestinian protesters who were chanting deaths to Jews in the wake of the October 7, 2023, Hamas-led terrorist attack on Israel.