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Rwanda Is Not A Safe Country , UK Supreme Court Rules

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In a landmark decision today, the UK Supreme Court has declared Rwanda as an unsafe destination, deeming it unlawful to deport refugees there. The government’s appeal challenging the Court of Appeal’s ruling has been rejected.

Lord Reed, delivering the judgment, underscored the court’s non-political role, emphasizing its duty to decide cases based on international and domestic law. He elaborated on the concept of refoulement, the exposure of individuals to serious harm in another country, a practice prohibited by the Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, and numerous other international treaties.

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The court asserted that proper assessment of asylum claims is not only mandated by the Human Rights Act but also by several other Acts of Parliament. It criticized the High Court for downplaying evidence from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), highlighting Rwanda’s poor human rights record and lack of judicial independence.

The critical question addressed was whether the removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda would subject them to a real risk of ill-treatment due to refoulement to another country. The Supreme Court, reviewing evidence independently, concluded that substantial grounds existed for such concerns.

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Lord Reed clarified that the decision was contingent on the existing evidence. If Rwanda’s situation changes, reducing the risk of refoulement, the UK government could reconsider deportation.

What’s Next for the UK Government? The Supreme Court’s ruling prevents the lawful deportation of individuals to Rwanda based on current evidence. The UK government faces two crucial considerations:

  1. The UK’s responsibility in the global refugee crisis, urging the government to abandon plans that may undermine the international refugee protection system.
  2. The impracticality of the “Rwanda Plan,” with doubts about its deterrent effect and the logistical challenges of detaining and removing a significant number of refugees.
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Despite these challenges, if the government persists, potential options include finding a safer destination, managing the asylum process in Rwanda, or withdrawing from international treaties—an unlikely and complex path.

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The article concludes by urging the government to refocus on efficiently managing the asylum system, highlighting the significant costs incurred by the asylum backlog, legal battles, and the proposed deportation project.

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