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United Kingdom | Court authorizes deportation of migrants to Rwanda



It was an expected decision, and it does not go the way of NGOs and human rights defenders.

On Monday, the High Court in London finally ruled “lawful” the British plan to deport asylum seekers who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda, finding that the plan planned by the Conservative government did not contravene the Convention on the refugees.

“The court concluded that it is legal for the UK government to put in place arrangements to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and have their asylum claims considered in Rwanda rather than the UK,” says a summary of the judgment issued by the High Court.

This decision is made while the crossings of the Channel by migrants continue to multiply, to the point of having become a political issue of primary importance in the country, which is trying to “regain control” of its borders since Brexit. .

In April, the government of Boris Johnson had concluded an agreement of 140 million pounds (232 million CAN) with Kigali to deport to Rwanda asylum seekers who arrived illegally on British soil. This agreement was aimed at dissuading migrants from crossing the English Channel between France and England in small boats.

A first flight scheduled for June, however, was canceled at the eleventh hour, after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The UN High Commissioner for Refugees even intervened in the case, arguing that such a policy would lead to “serious risks of violations” of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees.

But the new government of Rishi Sunak seems determined to continue this controversial policy. His very right-wing Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, has even made it his priority, multiplying statements sometimes deemed racist, such as his “dream” of seeing for Christmas “a plane take off for Rwanda”.


UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Populist comments aimed “to win the support of the general public in the UK”, where tories are currently in freefall, suggests Christina Clark-Kazak, a migration expert at the University of Ottawa.

immeasurable distress

Since the start of the year, around 45,000 migrants have thus arrived on the English coast, compared to 28,526 in 2021. And four migrants, including a teenager, lost their lives attempting the crossing on December 14, just over one year after the death of 27 people.

The pressure is undoubtedly huge for the UK, where the asylum system is overwhelmed. But that does not justify the adoption of such a project, believe the humanitarian associations, who see this expulsion plan as “immoral” and “cruel”.

“Refugees who have endured the horrors of war, torture and persecution will now face the immense trauma of deportation and an unknown future. This will cause them immeasurable fear, anguish and distress,” said Care4Calais, one of the organizations responsible for the legal appeal to the ECHR in June.

An opinion shared by political scientist François Gemenne, a specialist in migration at the University of Liège: “If the United Kingdom does this, I think it should logically withdraw from the Geneva Convention [sur le droit humanitaire] “, because this decision” violently challenges the right of asylum “, he decides.

A pattern that could repeat itself

This decision could also make children, worries Christina Clark-Kazak. “It offers a model that other countries might be tempted to follow,” she says. Denmark has already expressed its desire to apply a similar policy, but remains subject to the laws of the European Union and the European Court of Justice.

Mme Clark-Kazak, however, doubts that the UK will carry out these large-scale deportations and believes that the operations will remain limited and executed in an exemplary fashion.

“It’s very expensive and very complicated to implement all of this,” she says. In my opinion, it should be seen as a political strategy and not as a really practical strategy to manage immigration [illégale] the UK. They will use it to get their message across. »

Charities said on Monday they would carefully review the High Court judgment in London to see if they would appeal.

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