According to lawyers, the recent proposals by UK ministers to implement their prominent Rwanda policy are not expected to successfully address the legal challenges that resulted in their defeat in the supreme court on Wednesday.
Following a unanimous decision by five judges, the UK government’s proposal to deport asylum seekers to an east African country was rejected. In response, Rishi Sunak stated that he would pass legislation declaring Rwanda as a safe destination in order for the deportation flights to proceed.
The prime minister of the United Kingdom announced plans to establish a new agreement with Rwanda to ensure that individuals deported from the UK to Rwanda will not be sent back to their countries of origin. This process, known as refoulement, was a key factor in the supreme court’s rejection of the government’s appeal.
Attorneys have stated that these modifications would not fulfill Sunak’s goal of putting an end to what he referred to as the legal “cycle of repetition” and would probably still be in violation of court rulings.
Adam Wagner, a lawyer specializing in human rights at Doughty Street chambers, stated that the supreme court judges initially acknowledged that non-refoulement is an extremely important principle that is supported by various legal sources. He then added that while the government may pass a law stating that two plus two equals five, it does not change the fact that two plus two is still four. Similarly, even if the government declares that Rwanda is a safe country, it does not change the reality that it is not considered safe according to both international and domestic laws.
He referenced a statement made by the supreme court regarding a treaty between Rwanda and Israel, in which it stated that there was a violation of assurances, including non-refoulement.
According to Wagner, it is not possible to alter cultures through agreements. Additionally, the court expressed doubt in Rwanda’s ability to uphold the agreement. These are the facts of the situation. In order for any change to occur, the reality on the ground must also be changed. Laws and treaties will not be enough to bring about this change.
Several conservative individuals on the right side of the political spectrum have expressed anger towards the European convention on human rights. However, legal professionals have emphasized that this is only one of numerous agreements that hold the UK accountable to the principle of non-refoulement.
According to Schona Jolly KC, a barrister specializing in human rights at Cloisters chambers, the government is disregarding important details in their thinking process. The reality of the situation holds weight and was the foundation for our supreme court’s ruling. Enacting laws without proper consideration will not alter the facts, nor will it change the applicable international legal provisions or principles.
Alexander Horne, a former parliamentary lawyer, supported her remarks by stating that modifying our domestic laws will not rectify the violation of international laws. He also emphasized that the supreme court has made it evident that we are bound by the refugee convention, the European convention on human rights, and the United Nations convention against torture. These conventions cover a wide range of issues.
Lawyers stated that even if alterations to national legislation resulted in the supreme court feeling obligated to rule in favor of the government, it is unlikely that the European court of human rights would do the same.
Horne stated that disregarding the Strasbourg court, as proposed by Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson, and violating international law, would result in a contentious conflict with the court.
In simpler terms, there are concerns about the government’s ability to pass controversial laws through both parliament and the court system before the upcoming election.
Attorneys have expressed reservations regarding the constitutional implications of the government’s actions. According to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, the government has the right to pass laws in response to a judicial ruling. However, the Bar Council has stated that overturning a court’s decision “would pose significant and significant inquiries about the respective functions of the judiciary and legislature in nations that uphold the rule of law.”