Supreme Court ruling end of the line for Rwanda policy

The Supreme Court, the highest court in the United Kingdom, today (15 November) ruled the government’s policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, backing the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

The Law Society of England and Wales has previously questioned the compatibility of the Rwanda policy with the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In particular, we raised concerns in relation to asylum seekers being returned to their own country from Rwanda. It was on this legal ground that the Supreme Court found the policy unlawful.

“Today’s ruling was a clear and unanimous decision from five independent judges. The government should now switch focus to clearing the existing asylum backlog and tackling the severe lack of capacity in the sector to provide the asylum and immigration advice needed,” said Law Society Nick Emmerson.

“Quicker processing of claims means that those people granted asylum can go on to contribute fully to British society without being dependent on the state and those refused can be removed.”

“The ruling must also call into question the Illegal Migration Act as a whole as it is heavily connected to the Rwanda policy,” added Nick Emmerson.

“We have repeatedly raised concerns about whether the act is workable in practice. It is also widely considered to be incompatible with international law.

“The act is reliant on removing people from the UK. The Rwanda removals agreement has been ruled unlawful and there are currently no other removal agreements in place to ‘safe’ third countries.

“A growing number of people will be left in limbo under the act as they cannot be removed, and they cannot be granted asylum.

“The cost to the taxpayer will continue to increase as the individuals left in limbo are housed in either detention centres or Home Office supported accommodation indefinitely.

“This therefore undermines both the government’s justification for the act and its ability to offer a sustainable solution for the UK’s asylum system.”

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100