The government should now ‘switch focus to clearing the existing asylum backlog’ following the ‘clear and unanimous’ Supreme Court ruling on the government’s Rwanda policy, the Law Society said today.
Society president Nick Emmerson said the ruling, that the policy to deport irregular migrants to Rwanda is unlawful, ‘must call into question the Illegal Migration Act as a whole’.
He said: ‘The government should now switch focus to clearing the existing asylum backlog and tackling the severe lack of capacity in the sector to provide the asylum and immigration advice needed. Quicker processing of claims means that those people granted asylum can go on to contribute fully to British society without being dependent on the state and those refused can be removed,’ he said.
‘The ruling must also call into question the Illegal Migration Act as a whole as it is heavily connected to the Rwanda policy. We have repeatedly raised concerns about whether the act is workable in practice. It is also widely considered to be incompatible with international law.’
He added that ‘a growing number’ of people would be ‘left in limbo’ as they cannot be removed under the act and cannot be granted asylum.
‘The cost to the taxpayer would increase as individuals left in limbo are housed in either detention centres or Home Office supported accommodation indefinitely’ which would ‘undermine the government’s justification for the act and its ability to offer a sustainable solution for the UK’s asylum system’, Emmerson said.
Meanwhile Professor Richard Ekins KC, head of right-leaning thinktank Policy Exchange’s judicial power project, said the judgment ‘leaves open the settlement of refugees in Rwanda’.
‘What it shuts down, for now at least, is reliance on Rwandan officials to process asylum claims,’ Ekins said.
He added: ‘It is startling to see the court second-guess another country’s asylum system and, especially, to discount the government’s view about the likelihood of assurances being honoured. However, the policy of outsourcing asylum claims to Rwandan officials rather than having British officials process claims offshore always involved legal risk.’