Rwanda: UK Court’s Go-Ahead On Rwanda Asylum Plan a Major Setback for Human Rights

Mia Swart is Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights Law at Edge Hill University and Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, is 4,000 miles from the United Kingdom. Yet this does not deter the UK government from carrying out its plan in which asylum seekers deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK may be relocated to Rwanda. This plan was given the green light by the UK High Court in December.

The UK-Rwanda asylum plan was controversial from the start. Human rights activists globally condemned the plan. Some decried it as “a threat to the welfare of vulnerable people”. The Church of England’s senior bishops have condemned it as an “immoral policy”. The fact that many of the asylum-seekers have refugee status highlights their vulnerability.

On 19 December 2022, a UK high court ruled that it is lawful for the government to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than the UK.

Under the current legislation on asylum claims the UK Home Secretary, currently Suella Braverman, has the power to remove the person to “another safe third country”. The high court…

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