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British plan to permanently deport asylum seekers to Rwanda appears to be progressing – Foreign Affairs –

British plan to permanently deport asylum seekers to Rwanda appears to be progressing – Foreign Affairs –

The British government wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and is drafting new laws to keep the process going after the High Court ruled the plans illegal.

The House of Lords has again brought changes to the government's plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

This means that the so-called ping-pong process continues, as the bill goes back and forth between the Lords and the Commons (House of Commons).

However, the proposals are expected to be approved this week, meaning they will become law.

The process will take time but it is believed that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's asylum policy cannot be stopped. Sunak has invested a lot of political capital in the Rwanda idea ahead of elections later this year. He has vowed to stop thousands of people arriving in Britain illegally on small boats.

It has been two years since Britain and Rwanda signed an agreement that would see them cross the English Channel in small boats.

There are controversial issues

One of the controversial issues is plans to deport people who have served overseas with the British military, such as Afghan interpreters. The Labor Party has highlighted the same. Those who have served in the army also point out that routes have been set up for them to come to the UK instead of going to the country in small refugee boats.

Another question is whether Rwanda can be considered a safe country. There has been a demand for an independent monitoring committee to investigate the matter.

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None returned to England

Under the agreement, asylum seekers arriving in the United Kingdom will be sent to Rwanda to have their asylum claims examined there.

If successful, you can get refugee status and stay. If they fail, they can apply to settle in Rwanda on a different basis or seek asylum in another “safe third country”.

No asylum seeker can apply to return to the UK.

Ministers say the plan will stop people coming to the UK on small boats across the English Channel and crack down on people-smugglers' businesses.

The first flight was scheduled to take off in June 2022, but was put on hold following legal proceedings.

Demonstrators protest outside the UK High Court against plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda on 5/9/2022.

Image: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/Shutterstock/All Over Press

What is the verdict of the Supreme Court, can Rwanda be considered a safe country?

A planned deportation flight in June 2022 was blocked by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and in November 2023 the UK Supreme Court unanimously declared it illegal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

According to the court, refugees will be sent back to their home countries where they are at risk of harm. This would violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman treatment.

The ruling also cited human rights concerns in Rwanda and the country's past treatment of refugees.

The judges pointed out that in 2021 the British government itself had criticized Rwanda for “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

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They also highlighted an incident in 2018 when Rwandan police opened fire on protesting refugees.

The government tries to break the laws

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the government introduced a bill to clarify in British law that Rwanda is a safe country.

The law – which must be approved by both houses of parliament – has ordered courts to ignore key parts of human rights law in an attempt to avoid a Supreme Court ruling.

The government is trying to get the courts to ignore other British laws or international rules such as the International Refugee Convention – which bar deportation to Rwanda.

Sunak drew criticism – from his own party colleagues and the Archbishop of Canterbury – that his policies were immoral, unworkable and possibly in breach of international law.

Sources: Reuters, BBC