Supreme Judgecraft: Non-Refoulement and the end of the UK-Rwanda ‘deal’?
Catherine Briddick, Cathryn Costello
In R (on the application of AAA (Syria) and others) the UK Supreme Court held that the Secretary of State’s policy to remove protection seekers to Rwanda was unlawful. Rwanda is not, at present, a safe third country (‘STC’). There are, the Supreme Court found, “substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that asylum claims will not be determined properly, and that asylum seekers will in consequence be at risk of being returned directly or indirectly to their country of origin.” Should this occur “refugees will face a real risk of ill-treatment in circumstances where they should not have been returned at all” (para 105). We argue that the Supreme Court’s legal reasoning and evidential assessment are both impeccable, applying legal principles that are well-embedded in international and domestic law to very clear evidence. However, the UK government’s responses are deeply troubling, from the perspectives of refugee protection, international legality, and the rule of law in the UK.