• Supreme court rejects Rishi Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to #Rwanda

    Judges uphold appeal court ruling over risk to deported refugees and deals blow to PM’s ‘stop the boats’ strategy

    Rishi Sunak’s key immigration policy has been dealt a blow after the UK’s highest court rejected the government’s plans to deport people seeking asylum to Rwanda.

    Five judges at the supreme court unanimously upheld an appeal court ruling that found there was a real risk of deported refugees having their claims in the east African country wrongly assessed or being returned to their country of origin to face persecution.

    The ruling undermines one of the prime minister’s key pledges: to “stop the boats”. The government claimed that the £140m Rwanda scheme would be a key deterrent for growing numbers of asylum seekers reaching the UK via small boats travelling across the Channel, a claim that refugee charities have rejected.

    Reading out the judgment, Lord Reed, the president of the supreme court, said the judges agreed unanimously with the court of appeal ruling that there was a real risk of claims being wrongly determined in Rwanda, resulting in asylum seekers being wrongly returned to their country of origin.

    He pointed to crucial evidence from the United Nations’ refugee agency, the UNHCR, which highlighted the failure of a similar deportation agreement between Israel and Rwanda.

    The ruling came the day after the sacked home secretary, Suella Braverman, released an incendiary letter accusing the prime minister of breaking an agreement to insert clauses into UK law that would have “blocked off” legal challenges under the European convention on human rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.

    Braverman said Sunak had no “credible plan B” and added: “If we lose in the supreme court, an outcome that I have consistently argued we must be prepared for, you will have wasted a year and an act of parliament, only to arrive back at square one.”

    A meeting of hard-right Conservative MPs on Wednesday morning to consider the judgment was expected to back calls to leave the ECHR.

    Sir John Hayes, a close ally of Braverman, said on Tuesday that in the event of losing, ministers should table a narrow piece of legislation to enact the Rwanda plan before Christmas, and later include withdrawing from the ECHR in the Tory election manifesto.

    Reacting to the ruling, Sunak said the government would consider its next steps and claimed there was a “plan B”, despite Braverman’s criticisms.

    He said: “This was not the outcome we wanted, but we have spent the last few months planning for all eventualities and we remain completely committed to stopping the boats.

    “Crucially, the supreme court – like the court of appeal and the high court before it – has confirmed that the principle of sending illegal migrants to a safe third country for processing is lawful.”

    The home secretary, James Cleverly, said: “Our partnership with Rwanda, while bold and ambitious, is just one part of a vehicle of measures to stop the boats and tackle illegal migration.

    “But clearly there is an appetite for this concept. Across Europe, illegal migration is increasing and governments are following our lead: Italy, Germany and Austria are all exploring models similar to our partnership with Rwanda.”

    The judgment will raise serious questions about expenditure on the scheme. More than £140m has already been paid to the Rwandan government. The government has refused to disclose a further breakdown of costs on the scheme and on legal fees.

    A spokesperson for the Rwandan government said: “The money has been already allocated to a number of government projects.”

    Reed said the legal test in the case was whether there were substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would be at real risk of being sent back to the countries they came from, where they could face ill treatment.

    “In the light of the evidence which I have summarised, the court of appeal concluded that there were such grounds. We are unanimously of the view that they were entitled to reach that conclusion. Indeed, having been taken through the evidence ourselves, we agree with their conclusion,” he said.

    Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said it was a victory for men, women and children who simply wanted to be safe.

    He said: “The plan goes against who we are as a country that stands up for those less fortunate than us and for the values of compassion, fairness and humanity. The government should be focusing on creating a functioning asylum system that allows people who seek safety in the UK a fair hearing on our soil and provides safe routes so they don’t have to take dangerous journeys.”

    Toufique Hossain of Duncan Lewis solicitors, one of the lawyers representing asylum seekers who brought the legal challenge, said: “This is a victory for our brave clients who stood up to an inhumane policy. It is also a victory for the rule of law itself and the separation of powers, despite the noise. It is a timely reminder that governments must operate within the law. We hope that now our clients are able to dream of a better, safer future.”

    Sonya Sceats, the chief executive of Freedom from Torture, said: “This is a victory for reason and compassion. We are delighted that the supreme court has affirmed what caring people already knew: the UK government’s ‘cash for humans’ deal with Rwanda is not only deeply immoral, but it also flies in the face of the laws of this country.

    “The stakes of this case could not have been higher. Every day in our therapy rooms we see the terror that this scheme has inflicted on survivors of torture who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary.”

    Steve Smith, the chief executive of the refugee charity Care4Calais, a claimant in the initial legal challenge, said the judgment was “a victory for humanity”.

    He added: “This grubby, cash-for-people deal was always cruel and immoral but, most importantly, it is unlawful. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on this cruel policy, and the only receipts the government has are the pain and torment inflicted on the thousands of survivors of war, torture and modern slavery they have targeted with it.

    “Today’s judgment should bring this shameful mark on the UK’s history to a close. Never again should our government seek to shirk our country’s responsibility to offer sanctuary to those caught up in horrors around the world.”

    Care4Calais continues to support claimants in the case.


    #justice #cour_suprême #asile #migrtions #réfugiés #externalisation #UK


    ajouté à cette métaliste sur la mise en place de l’#externalisation des #procédures_d'asile au #Rwanda par l’#Angleterre

    • Supreme Court rules Rwanda asylum policy unlawful

      The government’s Rwanda asylum policy, which it says is needed to tackle small boats, is in disarray, after the UK’s highest court ruled it is unlawful.

      The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling, which said the policy leaves people sent to Rwanda open to human rights breaches.

      It means the policy cannot be implemented in its current form.

      Rishi Sunak said the government would work on a new treaty with Rwanda and said he was prepared to change UK laws.

      The controversial plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and ban them from returning to the UK has been subject to legal challenges since it was first announced by Boris Johnson in April 2022.

      The government has already spent £140m on the scheme but flights were prevented from taking off in June last year after the Court of Appeal ruled the approach was unlawful due to a lack of human rights safeguards.

      Now that the UK’s most senior court has agreed, the policy’s chances of being realised without major revisions are effectively ended.

      But Mr Sunak told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions that he was ready to finalise a formal treaty with Rwanda and would be “prepared to revisit our domestic legal frameworks” in a bid to revive the plan.

      A treaty - which Downing Street has said it will publish in the “coming days” - would upgrade the agreement between the UK and Rwanda from its current status as a “memorandum of understanding”, which the government believes would put the arrangement on a stronger legal footing.

      The new text would provide the necessary “reassurances” the Supreme Court has asked for, the prime minister’s official spokesman said.

      LIVE: Reaction to Supreme Court Rwanda ruling
      Chris Mason: Ruling leaves Rwanda policy in tatters
      How many people cross the Channel in small boats?
      What was the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda?

      Ministers have been forced to reconsider their flagship immigration policy after 10 claimants in the Supreme Court case argued that ministers had ignored clear evidence that Rwanda’s asylum system was unfair and arbitrary.

      The legal case against the policy hinges on the principle of “non-refoulement” - that a person seeking asylum should not be returned to their country of origin if doing so would put them at risk of harm - which is established under both UK and international human rights law.

      In a unanimous decision, the court’s five justices agreed with the Court of Appeal that there had not been a proper assessment of whether Rwanda was safe.

      The judgement does not ban sending migrants to another country, but it leaves the Rwanda scheme in tatters - and it is not clear which other nations are prepared to do a similar deal with the UK.

      The Supreme Court justices said there were “substantial grounds” to believe people deported to Rwanda could then be sent, by the Rwandan government, to places where they would be unsafe.

      It said the Rwandan government had entered into the agreement in “good faith” but the evidence cast doubt on its “practical ability to fulfil its assurances, at least in the short term”, to fix “deficiencies” in its asylum system and see through “the scale of the changes in procedure, understanding and culture which are required”.

      A spokesman for the Rwandan government said the policy’s legality was “ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system”, but added “we do take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe third country”.

      It leaves Mr Sunak - who has made tackling illegal immigration a central focus his government - looking for a way to salvage the policy.

      In a statement issued after the ruling, the prime minister said the government had been “planning for all eventualities and we remain completely committed to stopping the boats”.

      He continued: “Crucially, the Supreme Court - like the Court of Appeal and the High Court before it - has confirmed that the principle of sending illegal migrants to a safe third country for processing is lawful. This confirms the government’s clear view from the outset.”

      Mr Sunak is expected to hold a televised press conference in Downing Street at 16:45 GMT on Wednesday.

      The Supreme Court decision comes amid the political fallout from the sacking of Suella Braverman on Monday, who, as home secretary had championed the Rwanda policy.

      In a highly critical letter, published after her sacking and the day before the ruling, she said the prime minister had “failed to prepare any sort of credible Plan B” in the event the Supreme Court halts the policy.

      Newly appointed Home Secretary James Cleverly told the Commons on Wednesday the government had been “working on a plan to provide the certainty that the court demands” for “the last few months”.

      He said upgrading the agreement to a treaty “will make it absolutely clear to our courts and to Strasbourg that the risks laid out by the court today have been responded to, will be consistent with international law”.

      Lee Anderson MP, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, urged the government to ignore the Supreme Court and “put planes in the air” anyway.

      Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, the landing point for many of the small boats, said the Rwanda policy is “at an end” and “we now need to move forward”.

      “With winter coming the timing of this decision couldn’t be worse. Be in no doubt, this will embolden the people smugglers and put more lives at risk,” she continued.

      But charity Asylum Aid said the government must “abandon the idea of forcibly removing people seeking asylum to third countries”, describing the policy as “cruel and ineffective”.

      More than 100,000 people have arrived in the UK via illegal crossings since 2018, though the number appears to be falling this year.

      In 2022, 45,000 people reached the UK in small boats. The total is on course to be lower for 2023, with the total for the year so far below 28,000 as of November 12.


    • Supreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

      The UK supreme court has unanimously ruled that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

      Upholding an earlier decision by the court of appeal, the supreme court found that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda may be at risk of refoulement – being sent back to a country where they may be persecuted, tortured or killed.

      The courts cited extensive evidence from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that Rwanda does not respect the principle of non-refoulement – a legal obligation. The UNHCR’s evidence questioned the ability of Rwandan authorities to fairly assess asylum claims. It also raised concerns about human rights violations by Rwandan authorities, including not respecting non-refoulement with other asylum seekers.

      It is important to note that the supreme court’s decision is not a comment on the political viability of the Rwanda plan, or on the concept of offshoring asylum processes generally. The ruling focused only on the legal principle of non-refoulement, and determined that in this respect, Rwanda is not a “safe third country” to send asylum seekers.

      The ruling is another blow to the government’s promise to “stop the boats”. And since the Rwanda plan is at the heart of its new Illegal Migration Act, the government will need to reconsider its asylum policies. This is further complicated by Conservative party infighting and the firing of home secretary Suella Braverman, just two days before the ruling.
      How did we get here?

      For years, the UK government has been seeking to reduce small boat arrivals to the UK. In April 2022, the UK and Rwanda signed an agreement making it possible for the UK to deport some people seeking asylum in Britain to Rwanda, without their cases being heard in the UK. Instead, they would have their cases decided by Rwandan authorities, to be granted (or rejected) asylum in Rwanda.

      While the Rwanda plan specifically was found to be unlawful, the government could, in theory, replicate this in other countries so long as they are considered “safe” for asylum seekers.

      The government has not yet sent anyone to Rwanda. The first flight was prevented from taking off by the European court of human rights in June 2022, which said that British courts needed to consider all human rights issues before starting deportations.

      A UK high court then decided in December 2022 that the Rwanda plan was lawful.

      Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania challenged the high court ruling, with the support of the charity Asylum Aid. Their claim was about whether Rwanda meets the legal threshold for being a safe country for asylum seekers.

      The court of appeal said it was not and that asylum seekers risked being sent back to their home countries (where they could face persecution), when in fact they may have a good claim for asylum.

      The government has since passed the Illegal Migration Act. The law now states that all asylum seekers arriving irregularly (for example, in small boats) must be removed to a safe third country. But now that the Rwanda deal has been ruled unlawful, there are no other countries that have said they would take asylum seekers from the UK.

      What happens next?

      It is clear that the government’s asylum policies will need rethinking. Should another country now be designated as a safe country and different arrangements put in place, these will probably be subject to further legal challenges, including in the European court of human rights and in British courts.

      This ruling is likely to revive discussion about the UK leaving the European convention on human rights (ECHR), which holds the UK to the non-refoulement obligation. Some Conservatives, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, have argued that leaving the convention would make it easier to pass stronger immigration laws.

      But while handing down the supreme court judgment, Lord Reed emphasised that there are obligations towards asylum seekers that go beyond the ECHR. The duty of non-refoulement is part of many other international conventions, and domestic law as well. In other words, exiting the ECHR would not automatically make the Rwanda plan lawful or easier to implement.

      The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he is working on a new treaty with Rwanda and is prepared to change domestic laws to “do whatever it takes to stop the boats”.

      The UK is not the only country to attempt to off-shore asylum processing. Germany and Italy have recently been considering finding new safe third countries to accept asylum seekers as well.

      But ensuring these measures comply with human rights obligations is complicated. International law requires states to provide sanctuary to those fleeing persecution or risk to their lives. As this ruling shows, the UK is not going to find an easy way out of these obligations.


    • La décision:
      R (on the application of AAA and others) (Respondents/Cross Appellants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant/Cross Respondent)

      Case ID: #2023/0093
      Case summary

      The Supreme Court is asked to decide the following legal questions:

      Did the Divisional Court apply the wrong test when determining whether removal to Rwanda would breach article 3?
      If the Divisional Court applied the right test, was the Court of Appeal entitled to interfere with its conclusion that Rwanda was a safe third country?
      If the Divisional Court applied the wrong test or there was another basis for interfering with its conclusion, was the Court of Appeal right to conclude that Rwanda was not a safe third country because asylum seekers would face a real risk of refoulement?
      Did the Home Secretary fail to discharge her procedural obligation under article 3 to undertake a thorough examination of Rwanda’s asylum procedures to determine whether they adequately protect asylum seekers against the risk of refoulement?
      Were there substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will face a real risk of treatment contrary to article 3 in Rwanda itself, in addition to the risk of refoulement?
      Does the Asylum Procedures Directive continue to have effect as retained EU law? This is relevant because the Directive only permits asylum seekers to be removed to a safe third country if they have some connection to it. None of the claimants has any connection to Rwanda.


      These appeals arise out of claims brought by individual asylum seekers ("the claimants") who travelled to the UK in small boats (or, in one case, by lorry). The Home Secretary declared the claimants’ claims for asylum to be inadmissible, intending that they should be removed to Rwanda where their asylum claims would be decided by the Rwandan authorities. Her decisions were made in accordance with the Migration and Economic Development Partnership ("MEDP") between the UK and Rwanda, recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding and a series of diplomatic “Notes Verbales”.

      Under paragraphs 345A to 345D of the Immigration Rules, if the Home Secretary decides that an asylum claim is inadmissible, she is permitted to remove the person who has made the claim to any safe third country that agrees to accept the asylum claimant. On the basis of the arrangements made in the MEDP, the Home Secretary decided that Rwanda was a safe third country for these purposes. This is “the Rwanda policy”.

      The claimants (and other affected asylum seekers) challenged both the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy generally, and the Home Secretary’s decisions to remove each claimant to Rwanda. The Divisional Court held that the Rwanda policy was, in principle, lawful. However, the way in which the Home Secretary had implemented the policy in the claimants’ individual cases was procedurally flawed. Accordingly, her decisions in those cases would be quashed and remitted to her for reconsideration.

      The appeal to the Court of Appeal concerned only the challenges to the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy generally. By a majority, the Court allowed the claimants’ appeal on the ground that the deficiencies in the asylum system in Rwanda were such that there were substantial reasons for believing that there is a real risk of refoulement. That is, a real risk that persons sent to Rwanda would be returned to their home countries where they face persecution or other inhumane treatment, when, in fact, they have a good claim for asylum. In that sense Rwanda was not a safe third country. Accordingly, unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. This is because it would breach article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. The Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the claimants’ other grounds of appeal.

      The Home Secretary now appeals to the Supreme Court on issues (1) to (3) below. AAA (Syria) and others and HTN (Vietnam) cross appeal on issues (4) and (5). AS (Iran) also cross appeals on issue (4). ASM (Iraq) appeals on issue (6).


    • Alasdair Mackenzie sur X:

      Here’s my take on the Rwanda judgment in the Supreme Court today.

      It’s a longish one, but tl;dr: it’s a disaster for the Home Office and also for the Rwandans, & surely leaves the idea of outsourcing refugee protection to other countries in tatters, perhaps permanently sunk 1/
      First up, it’s extremely interesting that the Supreme Court was keen to dispel the idea that the problem with the Rwanda policy is only that it’s contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights 2/
      The SC points out that the principle of non-refoulement (not returning people directly or indirectly to face risks of human rights abuses) is also prohibited by other international conventions & by UK law – a clear attempt to defuse criticism of the ECHR 3/
      (Whether that will stop the usual suspects from calling for the UK to leave the ECHR is of course doubtful, but they’d have said that anyway – indeed Braverman’s letter yesterday seems to have been setting herself up to do so whichever way this judgment went.) 4/
      Second, the Divisional Court (High Court) – the only court to have upheld the Rwanda policy – comes in for sharp criticism.
      It’s said to be unclear that it understood its own function properly, ie to assess risk in Rwanda, not to review the Home Office’s assessment 5/
      The High Court also failed to engage with the evidence before it of “serious and systemic defects in Rwanda’s procedures and institutions for processing asylum claims” 6/
      The High Court also took “a mistaken approach” to a key plank of the govt’s case, ie that it was for the govt itself to assess diplomatic assurances given by Rwanda – in fact it shd’ve been for the Court to do so.
      (The last sentence has a nice little barb towards ministers.) 7/
      The High Court also failed to address crucial evidence, including evidence of how asylum seekers transferred from Israel to Rwanda under an earlier deal had been treated, despite its (you might have thought) obvious implications for how those sent by the UK would fare in Rw 8/
      The High Court is particularly criticised for dealing “dismissively” with the crucial evidence of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which was largely uncontradicted and should have been given “particular importance” 9/
      The High Court was of course the court which primarily refused to stop the removals of people on 14 June last year, meaning that people had to apply to the European Court at the last minute. 10/
      So having disposed of the High Ct, the next Q for the Supreme Ct was whether to uphold the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Rwanda policy was unlawful.

      The SC strikingly doesn’t limit itself (as it cdve) to saying the CA’s view was lawful, but strongly agrees with it. 11/
      The SC, again strikingly, dives straight in with this devastating summary of Rwanda’s abject human rights record, including its threats to kill dissidents on the streets of the UK (the point about the first line here is to show that the Home Office knew about this very well) 12/
      The SC summarises numerous problems with Rwanda’s asylum processes (set out in more detail by the Court of Appeal), incl lack of training, “ingrained scepticism” towards some groups, lack of understanding of the Refugee Convention, lack of judicial independence etc 13/
      Why, you might ask by now, didn’t the Home Office know all this? Well, they shdve done, but it seems officials, under pressure (implicitly from ministers) did inadequate & one-sided research into Rwandan asylum processes, something which ultimately undermined the whole policy 14/
      The HO’s fallback argument was basically: “well, even if the Rwandan system is a mess, people won’t be going anywhere anyway”. The SC is as contemptuous as can be of this (to translate for non-legal folk, “somewhat surprising” is as dismissive as it gets) 15/
      Now we move to the Israel-Rwanda deal, a catastrophe for Rwanda’s credibility & thus for the HO case – and ofc a total disaster for those affected, who were routinely secretly expelled from Rwanda (some were also left without documents, effectively forced out, trafficked etc) 16/
      The HO, again, knew about this but wasn’t deflected from potentially repeating the same mistakes: its lame answer was that the Israel-Rw deal wasn’t even relevant bc the UK-Rw one was new. You might think that was also a “surprising” submission and so, it seems, did the SC 17/
      However sadly – if only because it would’ve been what we lawyers call “the ultimate banter outcome” – the Rwanda scheme is found not to be contrary to retained EU law [aspects of EU law which remain part of UK law], bc in fact the relevant provisions were abolished in 2020 18/
      It’s important to note that the SC doesn’t rule out that the Rwandan system could be improved, & it hasn’t found that the idea of a scheme like this is prohibited (it wasn’t asked to decide that). 19/
      But what are the prospects of that happening? The Court of Appeal previously pointed to a real need for thorough culture change in the Rwandan civil service & judiciary, & to an absence of any sort of roadmap for achieving it (in a state ofc uninterested in the rule of law). 20/
      For all the govt’s attempts to put a brave face on it & claim it’ll upgrade the Rwandan system, personally I don’t think flights will go soon, if ever (NB the idea that it would make a difference if there was a treaty w Rwanda is pie in the sky imho) 21/
      And whilst this decision is a disaster for Patel, Braverman, Johnson & Sunak & all else who supported the policy, it’s surely a catastrophe for Rwanda, whose record has been pored over in detail in the most public way. (I’ve never understood why they didn’t predict that.) 22/
      For the same reason I can’t personally see any other state wanting to line up to replace Rwanda, whatever ££ incentives are offered (and remember we still don’t know the full extent of these in respect of Rwanda). 23/
      Any attempt to amend or replicate this policy will almost certainly be scrutinised with great care & intensity by the courts, inspired by the example of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in this case.

      The government will not get an easy ride. 24/
      At the heart of this of course have been the asylum seekers left in a state of fear & anxiety by this appalling policy – principally those like our client who were actually on the June 2022 flight until the last minute – but also others directly or indirectly affected. 25/
      Let this, please, be a turning point in how we treat refugees, and the catalyst for working towards humane, non-racist immigration policies more broadly.

      Refugees welcome here, always. 26/
      Finally, tributes: the team at @Refugees
      – UNHCR – put together compelling evidence about Rwanda which formed the basis for this outcome. Its legal team presented that evidence with awesome clarity & force. 27/
      The legal team for the lead group of claimants (AAA etc) have been outstanding and although it’s invidious to single out anyone, I’m going to anyway, as no praise can be too high for the skill, dedication & humanity of the leading counsel for the AAA team, @RazaHusainQC 28/
      I was privileged to play a small part in this case, representing one of the co-claimants, “RM”, instructed by Daniel Merriman & Tim Davies of Wilsons LLP, alongside David Sellwood & Rosa Polaschek, led initially by Richard Drabble KC & in the SC by Phillippa Kaufmann KC 29/


    • La Cour suprême britannique juge illégal de renvoyer des demandeurs d’asile au Rwanda

      La Cour suprême britannique a confirmé mercredi 15 novembre l’illégalité du projet hautement controversé du gouvernement d’expulser vers le Rwanda les demandeurs d’asile, d’où qu’ils viennent, arrivés illégalement sur le sol britannique.

      Les hauts magistrats ont ainsi rejeté l’appel du gouvernement du Premier ministre Rishi Sunak et jugé que c’est à juste titre que la cour d’appel avait conclu que le Rwanda ne pouvait être considéré comme un pays tiers sûr.

      Le projet avait été rejeté par une cour d’appel britannique en juin dernier.

      La Cour suprême a rendu son jugement à l’unanimité.

      Pour justifier leur décision, les juges s’appuient sur le bilan rwandais en matière de droits de l’Homme et de traitement des demandeurs d’asile, rapporte notre correspondante à Londres, Émeline Vin. Selon eux, le Rwanda ne respecte pas ses obligations internationales, il rejette 100 % des demandes d’asile venant de Syriens, de Yéménites ou d’Afghans - qui fuient des zones de conflit.

      Ils reprochent aussi au pays de renvoyer des demandeurs voire des réfugiés dans leur pays d’origine, une pratique contraire à la Convention des Nations unies.

      Ce partenariat ferait courir des risques aux demandeurs d’asile et enfreint les lois britanniques.

      Cette décision est un coup dur pour le Premier ministre Rishi Sunak, qui doit faire face aux pressions de son parti conservateur et d’une partie de l’opinion publique sur la question de l’immigration, à moins d’un an des prochaines élections législatives.

      Même s’il avait hérité le projet de ses prédécesseurs, Rishi Sunak en avait fait le pilier de sa promesse de faire baisser l’immigration. Le gouvernement fraîchement remanié n’a pas encore dévoilé son « plan B » ; des sources ministérielles rejettent la possibilité de quitter la Convention européenne des droits de l’Homme.
      Kigali « conteste » la décision, Londres affiche vouloir poursuivre le projet

      Malgré ce revers juridique, Londres a affiché sa volonté de poursuivre le projet en question. Devant les députés, Rishi Sunak a indiqué que son gouvernement travaillait déjà à un « nouveau traité » avec Kigali. « S’il apparaît clairement que nos cadres juridiques nationaux ou nos conventions internationales continuent de nous entraver, je suis prêt à modifier nos lois et à réexaminer ces relations internationales », a-t-il ajouté, alors que certains élus de sa majorité réclament un retrait de la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme (CEDH).

      Après l’annonce, Kigali aussi a immédiatement annoncé « contester » la décision juridique. « Nous contestons la décision selon laquelle le Rwanda n’est pas un pays tiers sûr pour les demandeurs d’asile et les réfugiés », a déclaré la porte-parole de la présidence rwandaise Yolande Makolo.

      Lors d’un entretien téléphonique, le Premier ministre britannique Rishi Sunak et le président rwandais Paul Kagame « ont réitéré leur ferme engagement à faire fonctionner (leur) partenariat en matière d’immigration et ont convenu de prendre les mesures nécessaires pour s’assurer que cette politique soit solide et légale », a indiqué Downing Street dans un communiqué.


    • Devant les députés, Rishi Sunak a indiqué que son gouvernement travaillait déjà à un « nouveau traité » avec Kigali. « S’il apparaît clairement que nos cadres juridiques nationaux ou nos conventions internationales continuent de nous entraver, je suis prêt à modifier nos lois et à réexaminer ces relations internationales », a-t-il ajouté, alors que certains élus de sa majorité réclament un retrait de la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme (#CEDH).

      Darmanin, fais gaffe ! il est possible que les anglais tirent les premiers.
      Et, cela se lit le jour où l’on apprend que « Une directive en préparation sur les violences faites aux femmes prévoit de caractériser le viol par l’absence de consentement. L’objectif est de faire converger les législations européennes. Plusieurs Etats, dont la France, s’y opposent. »

      souveraineté en crise, chauvinisme en essor.

    • Envoyer les demandeurs d’asile au Rwanda ? La Cour suprême du Royaume-Uni dit non

      Dans une décision rendue mercredi 15 novembre, la plus haute juridiction britannique s’est prononcée sur le projet du gouvernement visant à expédier les migrants au Rwanda le temps de l’examen de leur demande de protection. Il n’en sera pas question pour l’instant.

      La décision était très attendue. Voilà près de deux ans que le Royaume-Uni avait signé un accord – informel – avec le Rwanda pour y expédier ses demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile, dans un contexte où les arrivées de migrant·es par la Manche atteignaient des niveaux records

      La nouvelle s’inscrivait dans un contexte de surenchère politique nauséabonde s’agissant de l’immigration, après que le gouvernement eut envisagé les pires scénarios possible pour repousser les exilé·es en mer et les empêcher d’atteindre les côtes anglaises.

      Mercredi 15 novembre, la Cour suprême s’est enfin prononcée, plusieurs mois après avoir été saisie. Cinq juges ont estimé, à l’unanimité, que le risque d’envoyer des demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile au Rwanda était trop grand : non seulement cela pourrait créer des inégalités de traitement dans les requêtes formulées par les exilé·es, mais ces personnes pourraient être renvoyées dans leur pays d’origine en cas de rejet de leur demande, alors même qu’elles pourraient y encourir un danger.

      Une pratique qui violerait le principe de « non-refoulement », qui interdit aux États d’expulser, « de quelque manière que ce soit », un·e réfugié·e « sur les frontières des territoires où sa vie ou sa liberté seraient menacées en raison de sa race, de sa religion, de sa nationalité, de son appartenance à un certain groupe social ou de ses opinions politiques ».

      Dans sa prise de parole, le président de la Cour suprême a rappelé l’importance de la Convention de Genève relative aux réfugié·es, dont le Royaume-Uni est signataire, de même que la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme et le droit international de manière générale, qui interdit de renvoyer des personnes en quête de protection dans leur pays d’origine sans qu’un examen sérieux de leur demande n’ait été réalisé au préalable.

      Le juge, Robert Reed, a également pris soin de souligner qu’il ne s’agissait pas d’une « décision politique » mais bien d’une question de droit, relevant de ce qui est légal ou non.
      Un risque trop grand pour les réfugié·es

      « Nous avons conclu qu’il existait des raisons sérieuses de croire qu’un risque réel de refoulement existait. Un changement est nécessaire pour éliminer ce risque, mais il n’a pas été démontré qu’il était en place actuellement », a-t-il justifié, rappelant les violations de droits humains régulièrement dénoncées au Rwanda, ainsi que les effets concrets déjà observés à l’occasion d’un autre accord similaire, signé entre le Rwanda et Israël, ayant mené à des refoulements réguliers de personnes exilées.

      « Si le Rwanda ne dispose pas d’un système adéquat pour traiter les demandes d’asile, les véritables réfugiés pourraient être renvoyés dans leur pays d’origine. En d’autres termes, ils feraient l’objet d’un refoulement », a complété le juge dans son propos.

      La requête du ministère de l’intérieur, qui contestait une décision antérieure de la cour d’appel, a ainsi été rejetée. Récemment, une grande campagne de communication lancée par le premier ministre Rishi Sunak ambitionnait d’« arrêter les bateaux » (stop the boats, en anglais), en s’appuyant notamment sur ce projet d’accord avec le Rwanda, qui devait avoir un effet « dissuasif » pour les personnes migrantes aspirant à rejoindre le Royaume-Uni.

      « J’ai promis de réformer non pas seulement notre système d’asile mais aussi nos lois. Nous avons donc introduit une législation sans précédent pour faire en sorte que les personnes arrivant illégalement soient placées en détention et expulsées en quelques semaines, soit vers le pays d’origine, soit vers un pays tiers sûr comme le Rwanda », avait déclaré le premier ministre lors d’un point organisé le 5 juin.

      La décision de la Cour suprême représente donc un sérieux camouflet pour le gouvernement britannique dans ce contexte, à l’heure où celui-ci faisait de la sous-traitance de l’asile une solution miracle.

      Mercredi, Rishi Sunak n’a pas tardé à réagir sur les réseaux sociaux, rappelant que lorsqu’il avait promis d’arrêter les bateaux, il « le pensait sérieusement ». « Il faut mettre fin à ce manège. Nous travaillons sur un nouveau traité international avec le Rwanda et nous le ratifierons sans tarder. Nous fournirons une garantie légale que ceux qui seront relocalisés vers le Rwanda seront protégés d’une éventuelle expulsion », a-t-il réaffirmé.

      En juin dernier, le premier ministre vantait également la possibilité de placer les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile sur une barge, surnommée le « Bibby Stockholm » et installée dans le port de Portland, dans le sud de l’Angleterre. Celle-ci devait permettre, selon le gouvernement, de réaliser des économies en cessant d’héberger les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile à l’hôtel : elle a finalement fait polémique.

      À peine installé·es à bord, les occupant·es ont alerté sur les conditions d’hygiène avant d’être évacué·es à la suite de la découverte d’une bactérie sur place. Le 26 octobre, un jeune Nigérian a tenté de mettre fin à ses jours lorsqu’il a appris qu’il serait transféré sur cette barge. Selon le quotidien The Guardian, deux décès « récents » s’apparentant à des suicides ont été répertoriés dans les hôtels hébergeant des exilé·es au Royaume-Uni cette année.


    • La Corte Suprema del Regno Unito giudica illegale l’accordo con il Ruanda

      Il Ruanda non è un paese sicuro dove trasferire i richiedenti asilo

      Mercoledì 15 novembre la più alta Corte del Regno Unito ha bloccato almeno per un periodo la volontà politica del governo di deportare i richiedenti asilo in paesi dell’Africa o in paesi extra Ue che non possono garantire per diversi motivi le tutele previste dal diritto internazionale.

      La Corte ha infatti stabilito che il Ruanda non è un Paese terzo sicuro in cui inviare i richiedenti asilo. Secondo tutte le organizzazioni che si battono per i diritti dei rifugiati e per i diritti fondamentali si tratta di un’enorme vittoria, un risultato ottenuto anche per merito della mobilitazione diffusa e che proteggerà i diritti di innumerevoli persone giunte nel Regno Unito in cerca di sicurezza e accoglienza.

      L’accordo tra Regno Unito e Ruanda era stato fortemente voluto nell’aprile del 2022 dall’allora primo ministro Boris Johnson (dimessosi poi il 9 giugno 2023 per aver mentito alla Camera dei Comuni in relazione ai festini a Downing street nel corso del lockdown). Nella pomposa conferenza stampa del 14 aprile 2022 l’ex premier disse: «Tutti coloro che raggiungono illegalmente il Regno Unito, così come coloro che sono arrivati illegalmente dal primo gennaio, possono essere trasferiti in Ruanda. […] Ciò significa che i migranti economici che approfittano del sistema d’asilo non potranno rimanere nel Regno Unito, mentre quelli che ne hanno veramente bisogno avranno […] l’opportunità di costruirsi una nuova vita in un paese dinamico».

      Quel giorno il Segretario di Stato per gli Affari Interni e il Ministro Ruandese per gli Affari Esteri e la Cooperazione Internazionale illustrarono l’accordo di cooperazione in materia di sviluppo economico e migrazioni, utilizzando la solita retorica – tanto cara anche al governo italiano – del contrasto all’immigrazione illegale, della necessità di controllare le frontiere e di reprimere le organizzazioni di trafficanti.

      Tuttavia, solo due mesi dopo, il 16 giugno 2022, la Corte europea dei diritti dell’uomo (CEDU) bloccò, insieme alla proteste di diverse organizzazioni, il volo che avrebbe dovuto deportare i primi sette richiedenti asilo verso il paese africano.

      Le motivazioni alla base di quella decisione solo le stesse riprese mercoledì dalla Corte Suprema e prima ancora dalla Corte di Appello: ci sono motivi sostanziali per ritenere che i richiedenti asilo deportati in Ruanda corrano il rischio reale di essere rimpatriati nel loro Paese d’origine dove potrebbero subire trattamenti inumani e degradanti. Ciò porterebbe il Regno Unito a violare gli obblighi di non respingimento (non-refoulement) previsti dal diritto internazionale e nazionale.

      Emilie McDonnell di Human Rights Watch spiega che «la Corte Suprema ha richiamato l’attenzione sulla pessima situazione del Ruanda in materia di diritti umani, tra cui le minacce ai ruandesi che vivono nel Regno Unito, oltre alle esecuzioni extragiudiziali, alle morti in custodia, alle sparizioni forzate, alla tortura e alle restrizioni ai media e alle libertà politiche».

      L’esperta di diritti umani e diritto internazionale ricorda che nel 2022 Human Rights Watch scrisse al Ministro degli Interni del Regno Unito, chiarendo che il Ruanda non poteva essere considerato un Paese terzo sicuro, date le continue violazioni dei diritti umani. «L’Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i Rifugiati (UNHCR) ha fornito prove schiaccianti dei problemi sistemici del sistema di asilo ruandese, della potenziale mancanza di indipendenza della magistratura e degli avvocati e del tasso di rifiuto del 100% per le persone provenienti da zone di conflitto, in particolare Afghanistan, Siria e Yemen, probabili Paesi di origine dei richiedenti asilo trasferiti dal Regno Unito. L’UNHCR ha inoltre presentato almeno 100 accuse di respingimento, una pratica che è continuata anche dopo la conclusione dell’accordo con il Regno Unito».

      La linea del governo inglese è stata bocciata in tutto e per tutto dalla Corte Suprema, anche nella parte relativa al monitoraggio dell’accordo: il tribunale ha dichiarato che “le intenzioni e le aspirazioni non corrispondono necessariamente alla realtà“.

      «La Corte ha ritenuto che il Ruanda non abbia la capacità pratica di determinare correttamente le richieste di asilo e di proteggere le persone dal respingimento», aggiunge Emilie McDonnell. «Questo dovrebbe essere un monito per gli altri governi che stanno pensando di esternalizzare e spostare le proprie responsabilità in materia di asilo su altri Paesi».

      Di sicuro questa sentenza metterà in difficoltà anche il governo austriaco che sta pensando di stringere un accordo simile con il Ruanda, ma anche lo stesso governo italiano che circa 10 giorni fa ha stipulato un protocollo illegale e disumano con l’Albania.


    • L’asilo è un diritto, la Gran Bretagna deve rispettarlo: è un dovere

      La sua spregiudicata strategia di esternalizzazione ha subito un duro colpo ma molte questioni restano aperte. A partire dal tentativo del Regno Unito di disfarsi di ogni responsabilità sui rifugiati

      Con sentenza del 15 novembre 2023 la Corte Suprema del Regno Unito ha confermato “la conclusione della Corte d’Appello secondo cui la politica sul Ruanda è illegittima. Ciò in quanto ci sono motivi sostanziali per ritenere che i richiedenti asilo affronterebbero un rischio reale di maltrattamenti a causa del respingimento nel loro Paese d’origine se fossero trasferiti in Ruanda” afferma la Corte.

      Il Memorandum siglato tra il Regno Unito e il Ruanda il 6 aprile 2022 prevedeva che le domande di asilo presentate da chi arriva in modo irregolare nel Regno Unito, specie se attraverso il canale della Manica, sarebbero state tutte dichiarate inammissibili.

      Nel Memorandum si conveniva infatti di dare avvio ad un «meccanismo per la ricollocazione dei richiedenti asilo le cui richieste non sono state prese in considerazione dal Regno Unito, in Ruanda, che esaminerà le loro richieste e sistemerà o espellerà (a seconda dei casi) le persone dopo che la loro richiesta è stata decisa, in conformità con il diritto interno ruandese».

      Subito dopo si precisava altresì che «gli impegni indicati in questo Memorandum sono presi tra il Regno Unito e il Ruanda e viceversa e non creano o conferiscono alcun diritto a nessun individuo, né il rispetto di questo accordo può essere oggetto di ricorso in qualsiasi tribunale da parte di terzi o individui».

      Sarebbe stato il Regno Unito a determinare «i tempi di una richiesta di ricollocamento (in inglese il termine usato è relocation n.d.r.) di individui in base a questi accordi e il numero di richieste di ricollocazione da inoltrare» al Ruanda il quale sarebbe divenuto il solo Paese responsabile ad occuparsi della sorte dei richiedenti anche se con esso i richiedenti non hanno alcun legame.

      Anche in caso di accoglimento della loro domanda di asilo, non veniva prevista per i rifugiati alcuna possibilità di rientro verso la Gran Bretagna, nonostante si tratti del Paese al quale inizialmente avevano chiesto asilo. Nel valutare come illegale il Memorandum tra UK e il Ruanda, l’U.N.H.C.R. (Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i Rifugiati) aveva sottolineato come “Gli accordi di trasferimento non sarebbero appropriati se rappresentassero un tentativo, in tutto o in parte, da parte di uno Stato parte della Convenzione del 1951 di liberarsi dalle proprie responsabilità”.

      Le sole inquietanti parole del Memorandum laddove precisa che le misure adottate “non creano o conferiscono alcun diritto a nessun individuo” sono sufficienti a far comprendere il livello di estremismo politico che caratterizzava il Memorandum nel quale l’individuo veniva spogliato dei suoi diritti fondamentali e veniva ridotto a mero oggetto passivo del potere esecutivo.

      Già la Corte Europea per i Diritti dell’Uomo aveva ritenuto, con misura di urgenza (caso N.S.K. v. Regno Unito del 14.06.22) di bloccare tutte le operazioni di trasferimento coatto dal Regno Unito al Ruanda per due principali ragioni: la prima è che il Ruanda non è in grado di garantire una effettiva applicazione della Convenzione di Ginevra e che quindi detto rinvio violerebbe l’art. 3 della CEDU che prescrive che «Nessuno può essere sottoposto a tortura né a pene o trattamenti inumani o degradanti».

      La seconda ragione riguarda l’impossibilità legale di contestare la decisione di trasferimento coatto verso il Ruanda; come sopra richiamato infatti, non solo non sarebbe stato possibile garantire alcuna effettività al ricorso, ma veniva negato alla radice lo stesso diritto di agire in giudizio.

      Nel rigettare il ricorso presentato dal premier Sunak la Corte Suprema del Regno Unito si è concentrata principalmente su due motivi di ricorso: a) il rischio di violazione del divieto di non respingimento; 2) la violazione del diritto dell’UE in materia di asilo. Sotto quest’ultimo profilo la Corte Suprema ha rigettato il ricorso correttamente evidenziando che, a seguito della Brexit, le disposizioni del diritto dell’Unione “hanno cessato di avere effetto nel diritto interno del Regno Unito quando il periodo di transizione è terminato il 31.12.2020”.

      Tanto il diritto interno che la Convenzione Europea sui Diritti dell’Uomo e le libertà fondamentali (CEDU), e in particolare l’art. 3, vanno però rispettati, e ad avviso della Corte “ le prove dimostrano che ci sono motivi sostanziali per ritenere che vi sia un rischio reale che le richieste di asilo non vengano esaminate correttamente e che i richiedenti asilo rischino quindi di essere rimpatriati direttamente o indirettamente nel loro Paese d’origine”.

      In un passaggio della sentenza la Corte afferma che “i cambiamenti strutturali e il rafforzamento delle capacità necessarie per eliminare tale rischio (il rischio che i rifugiati subiscano respingimenti illegali in Ruanda ndr) possono essere realizzati in futuro” (paragrafo 105). Tale espressione rinvia a un futuro ipotetico e non rappresenta alcuna apertura di credito verso le scelte del Governo.

      Nonostante ciò il Premier Sunak, per il quale la decisione finale assunta dalla Suprema Corte rappresenta una catastrofe politica, ha cercato di piegare a suo vantaggio tale passaggio della sentenza dichiarando in Parlamento che la Suprema Corte ha chiesto in realtà solo maggiori garanzie sul rispetto dei diritti dei richiedenti asilo in Ruanda e che il governo sta già lavorando a un nuovo trattato con il Ruanda e che esso sarà finalizzato alla luce della sentenza odierna.

      Probabilmente Sunak vende fumo per prendere tempo perché sa bene che i richiesti cambiamenti strutturali non sono realizzabili. Tuttavia la politica del governo inglese, almeno al momento, non sembra avviata verso un serio ripensamento e alcuni osservatori non escludono la possibilità che vengano adottate scelte ancora più estremiste come l’uscita unilaterale del Regno Unito dal Consiglio d’Europa, cessando dunque di essere parte contraente della Convenzione Europea dei Diritti dell’Uomo (come avvenuto per la Russia nel 2022).

      Uno scenario destinato ad incidere sui diritti dei migranti come su quelli dei cittadini britannici, che può apparire degno di uno scadente romanzo di fantapolitica, ma che in realtà non può essere escluso. Come non mi stancherò mai di ricordare, le violente politiche di esternalizzazione dei confini e l’attacco al diritto d’asilo stanno causando una profonda crisi a quel sistema giuridico di tutela dei diritti umani in Europa che fino a poco tempo fa tutti ritenevano inscalfibile.

      La Corte Suprema ha precisato nella sentenza che “in questo appello, la Corte deve decidere se la politica del Ruanda è legittima”. Rimane dunque irrisolta la più generale e scottante questione della legittimità o meno della politica del Governo inglese, di potersi disfare, completamente e ogni volta che lo desidera, della responsabilità giuridica del Regno Unito di esaminare le domande di asilo che pur vengono presentate sul suo territorio, delegando a tal fine, dietro pagamento, un compiacente paese terzo (sperando di poterne trovare, prima o poi, uno che non presenti gli aspetti critici del Ruanda).

      Si tratta dell’obiettivo generale che sta alla base della recentissima controversa legge approvata dal Parlamento inglese a nel luglio 2023 (Illegal Migration Act), successivamente quindi al Memorandum con il Ruanda, che all’art. 1.1 afferma che “scopo della presente legge è prevenire e scoraggiare la migrazione illegale, in particolare la migrazione per rotte non sicure e illegali, richiedendo la rimozione (“the removal” nel testo originale) dal Regno Unito di alcune persone che entrano o arrivano nel Regno Unito in violazione del controllo dell’immigrazione”.

      In una dichiarazione congiunta resa il 18.07.23 da UNHCR e dall’Ufficio delle Nazioni Unite per i Diritti Umani al momento dell’approvazione della legge, entrambe le agenzie delle Nazioni Unite hanno sostenuto che la nuova legge “è in contrasto con gli obblighi del paese ai sensi della legge internazionale sui diritti umani e dei rifugiati (….) la legge estingue l’accesso all’asilo nel Regno Unito per chiunque arrivi irregolarmente, essendo passato attraverso un paese – per quanto brevemente – dove non ha affrontato persecuzioni. Gli impedisce di presentare la protezione dei rifugiati o altre rivendicazioni sui diritti umani, indipendentemente da quanto siano convincenti le loro circostanze. Inoltre, richiede la loro rimozione in un altro paese, senza alcuna garanzia che saranno necessariamente in grado di accedere alla protezione. Crea nuovi poteri di detenzione, con una limitata supervisione giudiziaria”.

      La spregiudicata strategia della esternalizzazione del diritto d’asilo condotta dal governo del Regno Unito ha subito un duro colpo con la cancellazione del Memorandum con il Ruanda, ma moltissimi scenari problematici rimangono ancora aperti.

      Nel frattempo, come messo in luce dalle associazioni inglesi che operano nel campo della protezione dei rifugiati, il sistema inglese d’asilo sta collassando a causa della paralisi amministrativa prodotto dalle continue tentate riforme, e l’arretrato nella definizione delle domande di asilo ha superato i centomila casi pendenti.