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U.K. Supreme Court Rules against Plan To Ship Refugees to Rwanda

Britain’s highest court ruled on Nov. 14 that the plan, first issued by Boris Johnson in 2022 and strongly supported by the Sunak government, to send asylum seekers coming into the country to Rwanda, was unlawful. The ruling comes just days after Prime MInister Rishi Sunak fired Home Secretary Suella Braverman, whose remit included overseeing immigration, who has been replaced by former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (who was replaced by former Prime Minister David Cameron). Braverman, who is a major proponent of shipping the foreign migrants off to Rwanda, was fired for her virulent efforts to cancel the Nov. 11 mass demonstration backing a ceasefire in Gaza. She was also under fire for claiming that homelessness was a “lifestyle choice.”

To date, no one has been sent to Rwanda from “Great” Britain thanks to a series of legal challenges.

Raza Husain, a lawyer representing 10 asylum seekers from various conflict zones, argued that Rwanda’s asylum system was “woefully deficient and marked by acute unfairness.” Israel is the only country to have implemented the plan. Angus McCullough, a lawyer for UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told the judges that a similar policy pursued by Israel had led to the disappearance of some asylum seekers after they had arrived in Rwanda.

James Eadie, who represented the government, argued that while Rwanda was “less attractive” than Britain, it was “nevertheless safe” for the asylum seekers. No one has mentioned whether the British intended to put the refugees in chains during their passage to Rwanda.

Hours after Braverman’s firing on Nov. 13, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said Britain would continue to push for the Rwanda plan: “We have to ensure the Rwanda policy succeeds before the next general election,” he told the Telegraph. “No ifs, no buts, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.”

Rashmin Sagoo, the director of the international law program at Chatham House, said that withdrawing from the European Convention, while still a fringe notion, “will continue to be the ball that gets played,” particularly with a Supreme Court ruling against the government. “From my analysis, it’s a really odd and unconvincing proposition,” she said. “But it’s got really serious implications which require deep scrutiny.”