Harare — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to present emergency legislation verifying Rwanda’s status as a secure nation. This comes shortly after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom declared that the government’s scheme to transfer Rwandan asylum seekers back to their country of origin, was illegal.
Human rights organisations welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that if asylum seekers were returned to their home countries after arriving in Rwanda, they would be “risked of ill-treatment.”
The court’s ruling on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 struck Sunak a serious blow. He is preparing for a general election that must take place before the end of January 2025 and his pledge to clamp down on illegal immigration over the English Channel remains mostly unfulfilled. The Court ruled that there was a chance that any asylum applicant brought there would be sent back to their home country, in violation of both UK and international human rights legislation. It also mentioned Rwanda’s history of mistreating refugees and its dismal record on human rights, as reasons for its decision.
Announced in April 2022, under the leadership of former UK prime minister Boris Johnson, the five-year pilot called for sending certain asylum seekers to Rwanda in order to file claims for protection there. They may have been awarded refugee status under the proposal, allowing them to remain in Rwanda. If not, they may have requested refuge in a different “safe third country” or applied to live there under other circumstances. At this point, no one has been relocated to Rwanda as an asylum seeker. A legal challenge forced the cancellation of the maiden flight, which was originally planned for June 2022.