Suella Braverman’s Rwanda ‘dream’ crushed again as Supreme Court rules deportation unlawful

Suella Braverman in Rwanda

The Supreme Court has ruled the UK government’s Rwanda deportation policy is unlawful. 

On Wednesday morning (15 November) the court dismissed the Conservative government’s plans, which were first put forth in 2022, to send people who arrive in the UK illegally to the East African nation. 

The scheme has been controversial and heavily criticised due to Rwanda’s less than stellar human rights record and the persecution LGBTQ+ people could face.   

The move will come as a crushing blow to former home secretary Suella Braverman, who once described flying refugees to Rwanda as her “dream” and “obsession”.

In the ruling, the court’s justices rejected the home secretary’s appeal to implement the deportation plan and upheld the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the Rwanda policy is unlawful. 

“This is because there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda,” it reads. 

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The justices added under United Nation’s refugee convention people seeking asylum must be protected from refoulement – or in other words the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution. 

In Rwanda, this protection would not be the case and people would face a “a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement”. 

Lord Reed stated that there are “serious and systematic defects in Rwanda’s procedures and institutions for processing asylum claims”. 

As a result, there are “concerns about the asylum process itself, such as the lack of legal representation, the risk that judges and lawyers will not act independently of the government in politically sensitive cases, and a completely untested right of appeal to the High Court”.

The court’s decision was welcomed by refugee and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.

In a statement on social media Stonewall said: “Incredibly welcome decision from the Supreme Court this morning for all people seeking asylum in the UK – particularly LGBTQ+ people who would have been at heightened risk from the Rwanda deportation plan. It’s time for the UK Government to rethink its approach.”

Rainbow Migration wrote: “We are ecstatic that this government’s cruel plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda has been found unlawful by the Supreme Court. This is a huge victory for kindness and common decency.”

The Good Law project said it was “delighted” the plan was ruled unlawful, adding: “The plan was cruel, with the Government threatening to send people seeking asylum to a country where they wouldn’t be safe.

“The plan was wasteful – how much taxpayers’ money has been spent devising, publicising and defending a policy that always looked unlawful and would never have involved more than a couple of hundred people?

“And the plan was never about tackling the misery unfolding almost daily in the channel, but was always a callous performance aimed at Tory MPs and supporters.

“We’re pleased to see another example of how the law, in the right hands, can protect the human rights of the most vulnerable and hold government to account.”