Rwanda Policy Versus The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that the UK government's 'Illegal Migration Act - Rwanda Policy', which involved the relocation of asylum seekers, was unlawful.
The proposed governmental policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, known as ‘The Rwanda Policy’ in its current format has been held to be unlawful by The Supreme Court. This judgement upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision and the opinion of many lawyers, legal commentators and those working with refugees and asylum seekers.
All five judges presiding in The Supreme Court held that The Rwanda Scheme is unlawful, and it went against the principle of non-refoulement instruments. The court held that a person seeking asylum in Rwanda was at risk of being returned to their country of origin, which put them at risk of harm. The principle of refoulment is established both in international and UK law. Former Supreme Court judge, Lord Jonathan Sumption told the BBC that the Prime Minister's plan was "profoundly discreditable", and would be a breach of the government's international law obligations (BBC, 2023).
This judgement cemented the decision from the Court of Appeal that there are ‘real risks of refoulement’ from Rwanda and fears that asylum claims would not be properly conducted as a result. This would indicate that Rwanda is not a safe third country to which asylum seekers can be sent in order to pursue their asylum claims as set out in the Immigration Act 1971 paragraph 345B. This was evidenced by the United Nations’s Refugee Agency, which showed that Rwanda had not upheld a similar agreement with Israel previously, adding credence to the fears that many had of The Rwanda Proposal.