The "Migration and Economic Development Partnership," initiated in April 2022, aimed to transfer individuals unlawfully present in the UK to Rwanda.
Delays in implementing the plan occurred when organizations advocating for migrants’ rights filed a complaint. This led to the Court of Appeal reviewing the case, ultimately ruling against the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Despite the court’s decision, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak consistently defended the deportation plan, emphasizing Rwanda’s successful management of the refugee and migrant crisis, prompting the appeal to the Supreme Court.
However, the highest court’s unanimous rejection of the government’s deportation plans deals a blow to Rishi Sunak’s key immigration policy. The ruling, issued on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision, expressing concerns about the ’real risk of wrongful determinations and potential ill-treatment upon return to their countries of origin’.
The ruling followed the release of an incendiary letter by the sacked home secretary, Suella Braverman, accusing the prime minister of breaking an agreement to insert clauses into UK law that would have preempted legal challenges under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.
Braverman warned of the lack of a "credible plan B" and cautioned that losing in the supreme court would result in a wasted year and parliamentary efforts. A meeting of hard-right Conservative MPs was anticipated to support calls to leave the ECHR.
Sir John Hayes, a close ally of Braverman, suggested tabling a narrow piece of legislation to enact the Rwanda plan before Christmas in the event of losing. Later, this could be included in the Tory election manifesto alongside withdrawing from the ECHR.
However, Rwanda maintains that it will remain committed to its international obligations, as a country with international repute in the treatment of refugees.