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British Asylum Policy: Will Sunak's Rwanda Plans Ultimately Fail?

British Asylum Policy: Will Sunak's Rwanda Plans Ultimately Fail?

As of: November 15, 2023 6:00 am

The British government wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda so that their procedures are carried out there. So far, judges have blocked the plan. Now the Supreme Court decides.

Asylum policy is one of the most important issues for the Conservative Party and the British government. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to significantly reduce the number of refugees coming to the UK.

“I will do everything I can to stop the boats,” Sunak told the Conservative Party conference. It refers to the boats used by refugees to cross the English Channel from France.

In 2022 there were 46,000. This year the numbers will be significantly lower, but the Tories have many more in sight.

Asylum – but in Rwanda

The agreement with Rwanda is therefore a central element of British asylum policy. The government wants anyone who enters the country illegally to be flown out to Rwanda. An asylum procedure must be carried out in the African country.

Special to British plans: Anyone entitled to protection should be allowed to stay in Rwanda – but not sent back to Great Britain.

The plans of German politicians, for example the SPD, envisage something else: according to it, asylum procedures should be carried out in third countries. If such a procedure ends with the recognition of refugee status, and that is the difference, these people must be brought to Germany or the EU.

Braverman's Will

The British government had long wanted to start flights to Rwanda, but the courts stopped the process. For the right wing of the Conservative Party, deportation was a nightmare.

“My dream is to be on Page 1 of the Daily Telegraph saying flights are allowed to take off to Rwanda,” said recently sacked Home Affairs Minister Suella Braverman. He was considered a tough guy, but his successor, James the Wise, would pursue the same goal.

He spoke to Prime Minister Sunak – the goal was to fulfill promises to stop the boats. Conservatives believe that if flights to Rwanda ever take off, it will prevent more refugees from coming to Britain. Migration researchers doubt this deterrent effect.

The court has the final word

The British Supreme Court will deliver its verdict today. Another court – the Court of Appeal – had previously ruled that Rwanda was not a safe country for refugees and that the asylum system there was flawed.

If the court continues to block extradition to Rwanda, it will be a severe setback for Sunak's government. A central element of asylum policy then no longer works. Discussions in the Conservative Party about resuming the policy, perhaps in conjunction with another country, are gaining momentum again.

The debate over the question of whether Great Britain should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights will again be loud. Supporters of the move argue that Britain should not commit itself at this stage.

Flights to Rwanda in January?

If the court gives the green light to extradition, it will give the British government an early boost. It is said that the flight service may start in January itself.

However, it is not known whether this will reduce the number of refugees. And: the costs of the Rwandan policy are significantly higher than the usual processing of asylum procedures.

Christoph Prössl, ARD London, tagesschau, November 15, 2023 6:14 am