The verdict, delivered by the court’s president, Robert John Reed, indicated that the UK’s plan to send migrants staying in the country illegally is considered unlawful.
The UK Supreme Court based its decision on the assertion that there are "substantial grounds to believe that asylum seekers would face a genuine risk of ill-treatment due to refoulement to their country of origin if deported to Rwanda."
Refoulement involves forcibly returning refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they may face persecution.
Rwanda was accused of denying asylum to people from conflict-affected countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
In response to the verdict, a statement released by the Government of Rwanda on Wednesday night acknowledged that it was ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system, but expressed disagreement with the ruling that ’Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees.’
The statement contended, “Given Rwanda’s welcoming policy and our record of caring for refugees, the political judgments made today were unjustified.”
Addressing the allegation of denying asylum, Rwanda countered that their claim of a “100% rejection rate” of asylum seekers from some parts of the world is dishonest. The statement clarified, “A total of two individuals from Syria and Yemen were indeed not considered for asylum because there was a faster and more appropriate path to legal residence, and these individuals are currently living and working in Rwanda.”
The court also mentioned that Rwanda had unfair decisions regarding migrants, citing agreements with Israel that led to the deportation of some migrants. The government clarified that an earlier agreement with Israel to receive migrants ’was ended by Rwanda after it was deemed unworkable.’
Rwanda further indicated that the court relied on extreme and speculative concerns based on the hypocritical criticisms of the UNHCR, which has, on numerous occasions, expressed appreciation for Rwanda’s inclusive refugee policies, qualifying them as ‘exemplary.’
Rwanda remains focused on working with the UK on a binding treaty to re-emphasize already existing guarantees required for the partnership to succeed.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed that his country is actively working on a revised migration treaty with Rwanda. He expressed his unwavering commitment to controlling illegal migrations via his X account, formerly Twitter, immediately after the court’s decision on 15th November 2023.
“My commitment to stopping the boats is unwavering. The Government has been working on a new treaty with Rwanda, and we’ll finalize that in light of today’s judgment. If necessary, I am prepared to revisit our domestic legal frameworks,” he wrote.