Rwanda safe but ‘less attractive’ than UK, Government tells Supreme Court

Monday 9 October 2023

Rwanda is “less attractive” than the UK but a safe country to deport asylum seekers to, the Government has told the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Home Office began its challenge to the Court of Appeal's ruling that deporting asylum seekers to the east African nation is unlawful.

At the start of the three-day hearing, Sir James Eadie KC, for the Home Office, told the UK’s highest court that the policy to remove people to “a country less attractive” than the UK, “but nevertheless safe”, is lawful.

“The appeal is, at its heart, about the judgments made by Government about the future conduct of a friendly foreign state – Rwanda,” Sir James told a panel of five justices.

Sir James added that the Government has attached “considerable importance” to its Rwanda deportation policy.

The appeal comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told an audience at the Conservative Party Conference that he “will do whatever is necessary to stop the boats”.

Sir James told the hearing in London there is “a serious and pressing need to take effective steps that will act as a deterrent to those undertaking the perilous and sometimes life-threatening journey, typically across the Channel, from a safe country”.

Sir James Eadie in 2019. Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

He also said that asylum seekers’ rights of review and appeal were “embedded” in the deal with Rwanda, which also “guaranteed” access to legal support.

In written arguments, Sir James underscored that transfers to the east African nation “will take place only with the consent of the Rwandan authorities and numbers will, in the first instance, be low”.

The barrister explained how both countries are “committed” to the deal, with “very powerful” practical incentives for Rwanda to comply with the assurances given.

Several asylum seekers who were set to be deported on the first planned flight to Rwanda in June 2022 – which was grounded minutes before take-off following a ruling by a judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – are set to oppose the appeal.