LONDON ( Associated Press) — The British government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda on a one-way trip is legal, two British High Court judges concluded Monday, in a victory for supporters of the controversial measure.
However, the judges also said the government had failed to take into account the personal circumstances of those it was trying to deport, setting the stage for further legal battles before anyone could be sent to East Africa.
The case was to come up for hearing next month and there was a possibility of an appeal.
A consortium of asylum seekers, aid groups and border officials has sued to block the Conservative government from implementing a deportation deal with Rwanda aimed at discouraging migrants from crossing the English Channel by speedboat.
Britain is planning to send some migrants who arrived in the country as stowaways or by boat to the East African country, where their asylum claims will be processed. Those who were granted asylum would remain in Rwanda rather than return to the UK.
Judge Clive Lewis said, “The court has found that it is lawful for the government to make arrangements for the transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda and that their asylum claims should be dealt with in Rwanda and not in the UK.”
But he said the government “must decide whether there is something in each person’s particular circumstances that means their asylum claim should be processed in the UK or whether there are other reasons why they should not be transferred to Rwanda”. Wanted.”
“The Secretary of the Interior has not properly considered the circumstances of the eight applicants whose cases we have considered,” the judge said.
The head of the charity Ever Solomon said the refugee council was “very disappointed” by the decision.
“Treating people seeking protection as human cargo and deporting them to another country is a cruel policy that will cause human suffering,” he said.
More than 44,000 people have reached Britain through the Channel so far this year, and many have died trying, with four ships sinking in frigid waters last week.
Human rights groups say the government’s deal with Rwanda is illegal and unviable, and it is inhumane to send people thousands of miles away to a country they do not want to live in. They also point to Rwanda’s poor record in respecting human rights, including allegations of torture and the killing of opponents.
The UK has paid Rwanda $146 million (£120 million) under an agreement signed in April, although no one has yet been deported to the country. London was forced to cancel the first deportation flight at the last minute last June after the European Court of Human Rights found the plan “a real risk of irreparable harm”.
The British government is determined to press ahead with the plan, saying it will crackdown on gangs that smuggle people through busy Channel shipping lanes and send migrants on dangerous journeys.