The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Rwanda asylum policy is unlawful, in a major blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats”.
Five justices at the UK’s highest court unanimously rejected the government’s appeal over its policy of removing asylum seekers to the East African nation if they arrive by unauthorised means.
Flights forcibly removing migrants to Kigali will continue to be grounded after the ruling on the flagship policy that has been stalled by more than a year of legal challenges.
In a summary of the judgment read out by Supreme Court President Lord Reed on Wednesday, the justices found there would be a risk of genuine asylum seekers being returned by Rwanda to the home country from where they fled.
The flagship asylum policy was first announced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in April 2020, but not a single migrant has been removed to Kigali after a series of legal challenges.
Sunak will deliver his verdict on the ruling at Prime Minister’s Questions before new Home Secretary James Cleverly gives further details.
Suella Braverman warned after her sacking as home secretary that there is no “credible Plan B” if the Supreme Court rejects the Government appeal.
Lord Reed agreed the High Court was entitled to rule that there is “substantial” grounds to believe there is a “real risk” of refugees being returned to countries where they could face “ill-treatment”.
But he made clear the judgment was only based on the current risk in Rwanda and said that the changes needed to reduce the risk “may be delivered in the future”.
Campaigners welcomed the verdict with the Freedom from Torture charity hailing it as a “victory for reason and compassion”.
Steve Smith, the chief executive of the Care4Calais refugee charity, said: “The Supreme Court’s judgment is a victory for humanity.
“This grubby, cash-for-people deal was always cruel and immoral, but, most importantly, it is unlawful.
“Today’s judgment should bring this shameful mark on the UK’s history to a close.”
Sunak will now come under pressure from Mrs Braverman and the Tory right to haul Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
But Lord Reed made clear that it is not the only international treaty relevant to the court’s decision, which also took into account domestic law. (PA Media/dpa/NAN)