Politics & Economics  •  Society

Appeal Court grants stay of execution for Rwanda refugees

10 July 2023

THE TORIES’ plan to deport migrants who arrive on small boats to Rwanda has been ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal. First announced in April 2022, the government has already given Rwanda £140 million, without managing to deport a single refugee under the scheme.

The latest appeal was brought by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, the charity Asylum Aid, and a group of refugees. Two of the three Appeal Court judges ruled that Rwanda is not a ‘safe’ country, because there is a real risk that asylum seekers may be deported back to their country of origin, and so constitutes a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Money for nothing

The government will now take the case to the Supreme Court. It has so far spent at least £1.3 million on legal fees to prove the legality of a scheme which, according to the government’s own Impact Assessment, would mean spending £169,000 on deporting a single asylum seeker, compared to £109,000 to settle them in the UK.

But for the Tories, this is all (public) money well spent. The dubious legality, feasibility and expense of the scheme are immaterial: it is a policy for generating positive headlines in the ‘culture wars’ that have increasingly supplanted the general business of government.

The Supreme Court plans to hear any appeal ‘promptly.’ If it sides with the government, an appeal can be made to the European Court of Human Rights. Cue government sources floating the idea of using the next election to campaign on a promise to leave the Convention. Whatever the result, the Tories will benefit from months of headlines about ‘activist lawyers’ and ‘human rights’ obstructing the ‘will of the people.’

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of asylum seekers are living in total penury, unable to work—and the unlucky ones are locked up for months and years in detention centres despite having committed no crime.

And tens of millions of Britons are dealing with the fallout of inflation, the housing crisis, and NHS waiting lists, to which the government’s only response is to egg on the ‘independent’ Bank of England to impose a recession.

Their solutions — and ours

Labour has promised to cancel the Rwanda scheme if it wins, but its solution to the small boats arrivals is simply to promise a more ‘efficient’ law and order response, reallocating money from Rwanda to cracking down on smuggling rings and speeding up asylum decisions.

The Court of Appeal’s decision merely grants asylum seekers a temporary stay of execution. Four decades of increasingly punitive restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers and avenues for safe and legal entry are the causes of the spike in people making the dangerous crossing in small boats. More widely, the global refugee crisis is a direct consequence of the climate change and wars which are caused by capitalism and imperialism.

Outsourcing the ‘problem’ of asylum seekers to regimes like Turkey, Tunisia and Rwanda is not a solution. Nor is beefing up the security agencies and border force as Labour proposes. There is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ asylum seeker.

The labour movement principle of solidarity must extend to those who are the victims of Britain’s imperialist plunder and exploitation of the semi-colonial world. That means stepping up the fight to dismantle the detention centres, demanding equal rights for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and recognising that only a democratic and interntionally planned economy can start to solve the great problems that capitalism has bequeathed to humanity.

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