A Border Force vessel assist a group of people thought to be migrants on board from their inflatable dinghy in the Channel, Aug 10, 2020. (GARETH FULLER / PA VIA AP)
LONDON – Judges at the United Kingdom's High Court ruled on Monday that the government's plan to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is lawful, but they also criticized the government for failing to properly assess the circumstances of the eight individuals it tried to move under the scheme earlier this year.
"The court has concluded that it is lawful for the government to make arrangements for relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom," Lord Justice Clive Lewis said.
"On the evidence before this court, the Government has made arrangements with the government of Rwanda, which are intended to ensure that the asylum claims of people relocated to Rwanda are properly determined in Rwanda," he said.
The UK reached a deal with Rwanda in April, under which illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are to be sent to the east African country to have their claims processed there
The UK reached a deal with Rwanda in April, under which illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are to be sent to the east African country to have their claims processed there. If successful, they would be granted permanent residency in Rwanda rather than allowed to return to the UK.
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The UK hopes that the deal, for which it paid Rwanda 120 million British pounds ($146 million) upfront, will help deter migrants from making the perilous journey across the English Channel in small boats. More than 44,000 migrants, a record high number, have arrived in the UK across the Channel this year.
The first flight scheduled to take the migrants to Rwanda in June was canceled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruled that one of the migrants would face "a real risk of irreversible harm" if sent to Rwanda.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tweeted: "We have always maintained that this policy is lawful and today the court has upheld this."
A spokeswoman of the Rwandan government welcomed the High Court's decision, saying: "This is a positive step in our quest to contribute innovative, long-term solutions to the global migration crisis."
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Reacting to the ruling, Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary of the main opposition Labour Party, described the UK government's Rwanda asylum policy as "unworkable, unethical, extortionately expensive."