The UK government, under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is pushing emergency legislation to classify Rwanda as a safe destination for asylum seekers. This initiative follows a UK Supreme Court ruling that deemed the current asylum policy, introduced by Boris Johnson in April 2022, illegal. This policy, which has faced numerous legal challenges and has not led to any actual deportations, involves sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and barring their return to the UK.
The Supreme Court’s decision, influenced by the principle of “non-refoulement” in UK and international law, highlighted the policy’s failure to ensure the safety of asylum seekers. In response, Sunak is seeking a new treaty with Rwanda to prevent the forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries, though doubts remain about Rwanda’s commitment to this promise.
The proposed emergency legislation, aimed at swiftly implementing this policy change, faces potential challenges from the European Court of Human Rights and other legal and political hurdles, including the need to amend three British laws. Sunak, facing political pressure and criticism for the costly (£140 million) and controversial policy, has yet to guarantee that the flights to Rwanda will occur before the next general election.
Critics, including AOAV, emphasize the need for more humane and legal methods of handling asylum seekers. AOAV’s Executive Director was refused a journalist visa to Rwanda in 2022 in order to examine allegations of human rights abuse in Rwanda. He went on the BBC to discuss this matter. The video can be viewed here:
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