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Sunak’s plan to send UK asylum seekers to Rwanda has been blocked

The British Supreme Court has ruled against the Conservative Party’s plan to send asylum seekers in the UK to Rwanda over concerns about human rights violations and possible relocation.

A government plan to send asylum seekers currently in the UK to Rwanda has been ruled unlawful by the British Supreme Court.

Although UN refugee agencies have welcomed the decision, this is a huge blow to PM Rishi Sunak and his Conservatives who have been working to set their plan in motion over the last 18 months.

Ironically, the woman most behind the plan was former Home Secretary Suella Braverman. She was fired by the prime minister over the weekend after making statements against the Metropolitan Police’s neutral stance on pro-Palestinian marches and – on a separate occasion – calling homelessness and unemployment a ‘lifestyle choice’.

Before she was removed from her post, Braverman had called shipping refugees to Rwanda ‘her dream’. Days after her expulsion, she has now called Rishi Sunak a ‘weak leader’.

Newly appointed as Home Secretary is James Cleverly, who has said that while he respects the court’s decision, it is ‘based on facts from 15 months ago’ and will ‘not weaken [the current government’s] resolve’ to come up with a plan that is feasible.

Cleverly has identified his two main objectives while holding a position in the role, which aren’t exactly groundbreaking: stop small boats crossing the channel while keeping people safe.

As it turns out, Rishi Sunak is already setting Plan B in motion. He has said he is ‘prepared to change [UK laws] and revisit those in international relationships’ if that is what it takes to get the job done. Sunak is reportedly already working on a new treaty with Rwanda.

It’s no surprise that the Supreme Court’s decision is being heavily contested by the Conservative Party’s leaders. Their stance on anti-immigration, also known as ‘stop the boats,’ has been one of five key points of their leadership pledges.

However, there is a huge moral and ethical debate that is sparked by relocating vulnerable people to a third, faraway country.

Why or why not Rwanda?

The plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is part of Rishi Sunak’s plan to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country using boats to cross the English Channel.

He believes that the threat of transfer to Rwanda will deter people from making the journey in the first place. Getting Rwanda to accept those who have already and may one day illegally enter the UK has cost the government £120 million.

A plane carrying migrants to Rwanda took off in July of 2022 but was grounded after the European Court of Human Rights intervened. Not long after, those scheduled for deportation appealed to the UK High Courts to argue that the way they were being treated was unlawful.

The President of the Supreme Court Robert Reed announced the decision to block the agreement by highlighting Rwanda’s history of neglecting its obligations to refugees.

‘The changes needed to eliminate the risk of refoulement may be delivered in the future, but they have not been shown to be in place now,’ the court declared in its verdict. ‘The Home Secretary’s appeal is therefore dismissed.’

On previous occasions, The Court of Appeal cautioned that those seeking asylum had been sent back to the country they’d been searching for protection from or had faced ‘persecution or other inhumane treatment’ while in Rwanda.

Others have reportedly disappeared upon arrival.

The plan to deny refuge to those seeking conflict, violence, and human violations in their home countries has been deemed unacceptable by humanitarian organisations and the opposition Labour Party, too.

Already, the UK accepts the fewest numbers of asylum seekers, with Germany, France and Italy accepting significantly more. Numbers are also dwindling, with 46,000 fewer people making the dangerous journey across the English Channel this year compared to last year.

It’s only a matter of time before Britons will find out whether new loopholes in the law, created by Rishi Sunak himself, will be enough to change the stance of the Supreme Court.

But one this is for certain – he may be scrambling, but he’s not budging.