The British Supreme Court ruled this Wednesday, November 15. The Prime Minister does not intend to give up his arms.
The judgment was eagerly awaited. On Wednesday morning, the British Supreme Court unanimously confirmed the decision announced at the end of June by the High Court of Justice: the agreement signed by the United Kingdom for the sending of asylum seekers to Rwanda so that processing their file is illegal.
“By asking ourselves whether there were serious grounds to believe that a real risk of refoulement (the forced return of a person to a country where they would be persecuted, Editor’s note) existed at the time in question, we concluded that it was the case, said Judge Robert Reed. The changes needed to eliminate the risk of refoulement may be made in the future, but have not been shown to be in place today.” The judge ruled that the government had not taken into account the opinion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which had judged Rwandan practices in terms of asylum requests “unfair” And “arbitrary”.
The news was greeted by cries of joy from activists for the rights of asylum seekers present around the Supreme Court. Their joy could be short-lived, however.
Minutes later, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reaffirmed in the House of Commons that he was not abandoning his plan. The judges “confirmed that the principle of sending asylum seekers to a safe third country is legal”, he justified himself. So, “the government has already worked on a new treaty with Rwanda” to respond to their requests.
The government is not giving up
As his new Interior Minister James Cleverly, appointed to this post on Monday after the dismissal of the radical Suella Braverman, clarified, “the government has worked in recent months with Rwanda (…) to resolve the issue of its reception capacity. We have also reworked our agreement with them to ensure that asylum seekers who are sent there cannot be sent to any country other than the UK.”
The Conservatives’ determination can be explained by political reasons: Rishi Sunak wants to be able to show before the 2024 general election that he is acting to limit the attractiveness of his country to migrants. And this even though he admitted last month in his speech to the conservative convention that he thought “often about how our lives would be different if my grandparents had not left India and East Africa so many years ago.”
Concretely, no asylum seeker arriving on British soil will be sent to Rwanda in the short term. Once the future treaty with Kigali is signed, it will have to be ratified by the deputies. London will then undoubtedly await confirmation of its legality by the High Court of Justice. The first flight, organized in June 2022 after the signing of an agreement for 160 million euros, was canceled at the last moment after the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights.
However, Rishi Sunak acknowledged that “if it becomes clear that the national legal framework or our international conventions thwart our plans, I am ready to modify our laws and re-examine our international relations”. Does this mean rejecting the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as Suella Braverman called for to do, she who had considered that the latter was no longer adapted to the situation? ‘era ? Or as several Conservative MPs have called for, including party vice-president Lee Anderson, who encourages the government to “ignore the law” ?
James Cleverly considered that “this option would probably not be necessary”.Minister of Foreign Affairs for more than a year, he perceives better than his colleagues the effect that such a decision would have on the image of the United Kingdom.
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