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Rwanda takes issue with UK judicial system over migration deal

A British appeals court has overturned a previous ruling that would have allowed the UK government to send refugees to Rwanda to be processed. The ruling is a huge defeat for the British government, who are even less willing than their EU counterparts to provide safe routes for people fleeing war and persecution.

June 30, 2023 at 2:11 pm

Protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court against the Home Office’s plan to relocate individuals identified as illegal immigrants or asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, resettlement and asylum in London, United Kingdom on June 13, 2022. [Raşid Necati Aslım – Anadolu Agency]

The Rwandan government expressed concern, Thursday, over a ruling by the UK Court of Appeal which said that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees, Anadolu Agency reports.

In April last year, the UK signed a controversial partnership deal with Rwanda that would see asylum seekers attempting to enter the UK being sent to the East African country for resettlement.

But, on Thursday, the Court of Appeal said there were deficiencies in Rwanda’s asylum system which leaves substantial grounds to believe that asylum seekers sent there would be repatriated to their home countries, where they would face “persecution or other inhumane treatment”.

The verdict thus rendered irrelevant last year’s ruling of Britain’s High Court that said Rwanda was a safe third country for asylum seekers and refugees.

“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,” the Court ruled.

In a statement, the Rwandan government said it takes issue with the ruling.

READ: UK Court of Appeal rules plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda unlawful

“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,” it said.

“Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world, and we have been recognised by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees.”

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said Thursday that he “fundamentally disagrees” with the ruling of the Court of Appeal and the government would challenge it in the Supreme Court.

The deal, formally called the “Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership Initiative”, has faced criticism from rights activists and even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who argue that no sufficient safeguards and standards are in place to facilitate such a deal.

But the Rwandan government’s statement said “Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work.”

“When the migrants do arrive, we will welcome them and provide them with the support they will need to build new lives in Rwanda,” it said.

The plan is aimed at ending people smuggling across the English Channel, according to the British government.

The UK is offering an upfront investment of £120 million ($151.4 million) to facilitate the implementation of the agreement.

The government revealed this week that sending each asylum seeker to Rwanda would, on average, cost £169,000 ($215,000).

More than 44,000 migrants were reported to have arrived in the UK across the Channel last year.

In March this year, UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, was in Rwanda for the launch of construction for new homes in the capital, Kigali, meant to accommodate migrants from the UK.

In June 2022, the first planned Rwanda deportation flight was blocked after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a last-minute ruling issued an injunction preventing any deportations until the conclusion of the legal process in Britain.

READ: Asylum-seekers in UK under ‘Rwanda threat’ if they complain: Report