The UK government’s appeal case regarding its Rwanda asylum policy began Monday in the UK Supreme Court. The Home Office are attempting to appeal the Court of Appeal decision in June which held the plan to be unlawful.
The Rwanda policy is part of the UK government’s new immigration approach, working alongside the Illegal Migration Act. The act states that anyone who illegally arrives in the UK must be “detained and then promptly removed” either to their home country or a “safe third country.” Under the Rwanda policy, the UK Government labelled Rwanda as a “safe third country” and attempted to send migrants there. The lawfulness of this policy was challenged in a Court of Appeal hearing in June, in which judges concluded that the Rwanda policy violated Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Under the Human Rights Act, the government must comply with the ECHR, making the Rwanda policy unlawful.
In this current appeal being heard at the Supreme Court, James Eadie (representing the Home Office) disagreed with the Court of Appeal result, arguing that the scheme is both lawful and safe. He claimed that the the policy forms part of a “legitimate and key policy aim” to “take effective steps that will act as a deterrent to those undertaking the perilous journey … across the channel.” He went on to say that while Rwanda is “less attractive” than the UK, it is “nevertheless safe.”
In opposition to the Home Office was Raza Husain, who represented the asylum seekers challenging the Rwanda policy. He stated that the policy “has to tread a difficult line” which the Secretary of State has crossed “by a significant margin.” Husain argued that Rwanda is “an authoritarian, one party state which doesn’t tolerate criticism” and is therefore not a safe third country. He additionally claimed Rwanda’s government “is a regime that repeatedly imprisons, tortures, and murders those it considers to be its opponents, including after they have fled the country.”
The hearing is set to last three days, ending on October 11. However, a judgement is not expected to be published until November.