A three-judge court of appeals said Rwanda was not a safe country for migrants seeking asylum. The UK government is now expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The British government’s highly contested plan to fly some asylum seekers to Rwanda suffered a significant setback on Thursday when one of the country’s top courts ruled against the move to deport would-be refugees before their claims are assessed.
In a judgment delivered in London, the Court of Appeal said that Rwanda was not a safe country for asylum seekers. In doing so, the judges reversed a ruling in December by the High Court, which dismissed most legal challenges to the plan.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in a statement released after the verdict, said the government would seek permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, describing Rwanda as safe, even though its human rights record has been heavily criticized.
The decision on Thursday was not unanimous, with one of the three judges taking the opposite view.
“The result is that the High Court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed and that unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful,” said Ian Burnett, the lord chief justice.
Comment on UK Court ruling on the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership
Kigali, 29 June 2023: While this is ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system, we do take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees.
Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world and we have been recognized by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees. We make a significant contribution to dealing with the impacts of the global migration crisis. Rwandans know what it means to be forced to flee home, and to make a new life in a new country.
As a society, and as a government, we have built a safe, secure, dignified environment, in which migrants and refugees have equal rights and opportunities as Rwandans. Everyone relocated here under this partnership will benefit from this. Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work.
The broken global migration system is failing to protect the vulnerable, and empowering criminal smuggling gangs at an immeasurable human cost. When the migrants do arrive, we will welcome them and provide them with the support they will need to build new lives in Rwanda.