Several asylum seekers, aid organizations and a union of border officials have filed lawsuits to prevent the conservative government from acting in accordance with a deportation agreement with Rwanda.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman will visit Rwanda this weekend to discuss an agreement in which the UK will relocate refugees and undocumented migrants.
Last year, the UK agreed to send tens of thousands of people more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to Rwanda as part of a £120 million ($146 million) deal, though no flights have taken off as opponents challenge the policy in the courts. .
The deal with Rwanda is an important part of Britain’s plans to detain and deport asylum seekers crossing the Channel in small boats.
Braverman will meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the trip and said the move to send migrants and refugees to Rwanda could come into effect soon.
“I am visiting Rwanda this weekend to strengthen the government’s commitment to the partnership as part of our plan to stop the boats and discuss plans to make our agreement operational soon,” she said in a statement.
The partnership was announced last April, but the first deportation flight was blocked by an order from the European Court of Human Rights.
In December, the High Court of London ruled that it was lawful. Judges also said the government failed to take into account the individual circumstances of the people it tried to deport, signaling further legal battles ahead.
Opponents are seeking to appeal that verdict in April and it could go to the UK’s High Court later this year.
Several asylum seekers, aid organizations and a border officials’ union have filed lawsuits to prevent the Conservative Party government from acting on a deportation deal with Rwanda.
The asylum seekers would then have to submit their asylum application in Rwanda. Those who are not granted asylum in Rwanda could apply to stay on other grounds or try to settle in another country, according to the plan.
Opposition parties and charities have described the government’s immigration plans as unethical and unworkable, saying the plan – known as the Illegal Migration Bill – criminalizes the efforts of thousands of genuine refugees.
Rights groups have also said that Rwanda has not been a safe destination since the 1994 genocide there. Human Rights Watch has warned in a public letter that “serious human rights abuses continue in Rwanda, including repression of freedom of expression, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture”.
Braverman has vigorously defended her approach, describing her opponents as “naive do-gooders”. The government insists the policy is needed to stop the all-too-deadly crossings of the canal from France, saying the deal will undermine the business model of people-smuggling networks.
After a record 45,000 people arrived in Britain on small boats last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said finding a solution is one of his top priorities.