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UK court to hear government appeal on Rwanda migrant plan

October 9, 2023

The hearing comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government battles to deal with irregular migration ahead of elections next year.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
The UK government will argue against the ruling which declared deportation of migrants to Rwanda unlawful Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on Monday will hear the government's appeal to revoke a law that declared deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, unlawful.

The deportation policy is one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's key measures which seeks to reduce the amount of migrants seeking asylum in the country. The hearing comes at a time when the UK is preparing for elections next year.

Over three days this week, government lawyers will argue against the ruling while representatives of migrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and Sudan will argue against the government's deportation scheme.

Sunak's controversial deportation plan

The UK government's plan, to send thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda, was challenged by 10 migrants in London's Court of Appeal in June.

The judges had observed that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country and ruled that the plan to deport thousands of migrants more than 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) to East Africa was not lawful.

"The deficiencies in the asylum system in Rwanda are such that there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that persons sent to Rwanda will be returned to their home countries, where they faced persecution or other inhumane treatment," the judges said in their June ruling.

Britain aims to reduce English Channel migration

Stakes are high for Conservative Party

More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel since England began recording arrivals in 2018. Immigration was among the key factors of Britain"s referendum vote to leave the European Union, according to surveys.

It remains a major concern for the public, with many believing government is not taking adequate measures when it comes to dealing with the matter.

The decision of the Supreme Court holds importance for Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party which has made policy on migration one of the five key priorities.

Sunak's government has also brought in legislation blocking asylum applications from anyone arriving in the UK by small boat and even promised to "stop the boats." 

It was because of Britain's Human Rights Act (HRA), Sunak's policy was declared unlawful. The act makes the European Convention on Human Rights part of British law. Now, many in Sunak's party want Britain to pull out of the ECHR.

Mild weather leads to increase in illegal Channel crossings

mfi/kb (AFP, Reuters)