9 July 2024

New UK Government Abandons Controversial Rwanda Asylum Scheme

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The UK government’s controversial Rwanda scheme, which aimed to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, has been scrapped by the new administration following the general election. This decision marks a significant policy shift and comes after intense scrutiny and legal challenges.

Introduction and Background

The scheme was initially introduced under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in 2022, as part of efforts to deter irregular migration and manage asylum claims more effectively. However, it faced substantial criticism from human rights organizations and legal challenges that culminated in a Supreme Court ruling in November 2023, declaring the policy unlawful. The court found that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country due to its poor human rights record, raising concerns that asylum seekers sent there would face the risk of refoulement, or being returned to countries where they might face persecution.

Supreme Court Ruling

Despite efforts by the previous government to address these concerns through new laws and treaties, the core issues remained unresolved. The legislation aimed to legally designate Rwanda as a safe country and restrict individuals’ ability to challenge their relocation in UK courts. However, the Supreme Court’s decision highlighted that legislative declarations could not replace factual realities or override the UK’s international obligations.

Labour Government’s Stance

The new Labour government, led by Sir Keir Starmer, fulfilled its campaign promise to scrap the Rwanda scheme on its first day in office. The Labour Party has indicated that the scheme has “never been a deterrent” as it would only deport “less than1%” of small boat arrivals. It will instead pursue a returns agreement with the European Union and focus on creating a fair and functional asylum system within the UK.

Implications and Future Directions

The termination of the Rwanda scheme is a significant development in the UK’s immigration policy, reflecting ongoing debates about how to manage asylum claims and the ethical responsibilities towards refugees and migrants. This decision is likely to be welcomed by human rights advocates and will also spark discussions on alternative strategies for managing irregular migration and asylum processing.



The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Zehra is our senior lawyer and partner at Connaughts. She qualified as a solicitor in 2016 and joined Connaughts in 2017. She provides a comprehensive and versatile service to her clients. Currently, Zehra advises on areas such as Dispute Resolution, Family Law and Immigration Law.

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