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UK to explore new migration deal with Rwanda following court ruling

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Rwanda and the United Kingdom are exploring a new deal that could allow the transfer of illegal migrants to Rwanda despite the Supreme Court ruling that refugees sent to the country face a risk of being returned to their home countries. 

Both countries signed the deal in April 2022. Under the agreement, any migrants who enter the UK through unofficial means – for example crossing the Channel in small boats – would be removed from the UK, banned from future re-entry, and barred from applying for British citizenship.

The government will also have a legal duty to detain and remove them from Rwanda. However, the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that there were substantial grounds to believe that genuine refugees sent to Rwanda could be at risk of being returned to countries from which they have fled – where they could be subject to inhumane treatment.

The British government later announced that it is in the “final stages” of negotiating a new treaty with Rwanda, the immigration minister says. Speaking after the ruling, UK’s Prime Minister RIshi Sunak said he was determined to “end the merry-go-round” of legal challenges. 

The new treaty would protect against the removal of asylum seekers from Rwanda back to their home country, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

The treaty would determine Rwanda as a safe country and ensure that the endless cycle of legal disputes and challenges finally comes to an end. But legal heads are being scratched as to how the emergency legislation might work.

Rwanda remains welcoming to migrants

Following the UK court ruling, Rwanda said it “took issue” with the ruling that the country is not a safe third-world country. 

“This is ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system. However, we do take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe third country for asylum seekers and refugees, in terms of refoulement. Rwanda and the UK have been working together to ensure the integration of relocated asylum seekers into Rwandan society.” 

The government added in a statement saying it remains “committed to its international obligations, and we have been recognized by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees”.

The controversial plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and ban them from returning to the UK – which has already cost at least £140m – has been subject to court challenges since it was first announced by Boris Johnson in April 2022.

No asylum seeker has been sent to Rwanda. The first flight was scheduled to go in June 2022 but was canceled after an intervention from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

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