15.11.2023 - Rwanda plan ruled unlawful - our reflections

Dear supporter,

As you’ll likely have seen, the government’s cruel ‘Rwanda plan’ was dealt a major blow this morning. The policy – which sought to deport many people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda – was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court, as it failed to pass the test of ‘refoulement’.

Today’s ruling centred around this concept – the international legal requirement to ensure that a refugee or asylum seeker is not sent back to their country, or a ‘third country’ where they will not be deemed safe.

With concerns around Rwanda’s justice system and human rights records, the judgement highlighted evidence of “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.” 

This ruling confirms what we’ve known all along: not only is the Rwanda policy immoral, it’s also illegal. Visit our website to see our initial statement, which calls for a new approach: one that prioritises compassion and responsibility over cruelty and deterrence.

Our values

Of course, beyond the legal aspects there are important ethical considerations. Our organisation, HIAS+JCORE, is based on Jewish values – and specifically those of compassion and social responsibility.

With that, we’ve joined with over 120 organisations in signing a civil society statement coordinated by the JCWI. This expresses relief that the policy was found unlawful, but also raising concerns about the government’s treatment of people seeking safety in the UK.

And crucially, it states that “we know that as a community we are compassionate and welcoming, and we need immigration policies that are rooted in that same care, compassion and respect for human rights”. We totally agree with this sentiment. It is what drives us as an organisation engaging with the Jewish world here in the UK.

These are the values that will drive us to work with organisations that share them – and through the relationships we build with others, we will be able to do our bit to impact on government policy and bring about a more welcoming reality for those seeking refuge and asylum here.

What happens now?

With today’s news inevitably come thoughts about what will come next. This includes questions about the future of the ‘Illegal Migration Act’ – these explainers from JCWI and FreeMovement are well worth a read.

We’ll be in touch again soon with further updates,

Wishing you all the best,

David, Amos and the team.

PS: While we’re all rightly focused on current policy developments, it’s also important to look to the future. There’s just over two weeks to go until our online COP 28 climate displacement panel – click here to sign up for our ‘Climate change – the next catalyst for global displacement?’ event.