Britain’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda is lawful, London’s high court has ruled.
Judge Clive Lewis said it was lawful for Britain to make arrangements with the Rwanda government to send asylum seekers to the country for their asylum claims to be determined there.
A British High Court said although it is now legal to send migrants to Rwanda under the plan, the government must consider the circumstances of each case before deporting anyone.
“The (British) government has made arrangements with the government of Rwanda which are intended to ensure that asylum claims of people relocated to Rwanda are properly determined there,” the judge said.
In April, the authorities in the UK struck a deal with Rwandan authorities, aiming to send tens of thousands of migrants arriving on its shores to Rwanda.
No deportation has yet taken place because of legal challenges – and this may remain the case should there be further appeals.
In June, a UK court decided that the first flight to take migrants arriving illegally in Britain to Rwanda could go ahead after judges dismissed campaigners’ attempts to win an injunction to stop it.
According to the agreement, all people crossing the border illegally into the UK – around 28 000 per year – will be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum applications will be processed from A to Z by Rwandan authorities.
In return, the UK will pay Rwanda a substantial sum of R2 billion per year.
The UK government says the deportation strategy will undermine people-smuggling networks and stem the flow of migrants risking their lives by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe.
Human rights groups say the policy is inhumane and will put migrants at risk. The UNHCR has said Rwanda, whose own human rights record is under scrutiny, does not have the capacity to process the claims.
This year, the United Nations refugee chief described a UK plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as “all wrong”, saying it would create a catastrophic precedent for other countries.
“This is all wrong, this deal, for so many different reasons,” Filippo Grandi told journalists at a Geneva press briefing.
“The precedent that this creates is catastrophic for a concept that needs to be shared, like asylum,” he added.