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UNHCR welcomes the UK Supreme Court judgement on transfer of asylum-seekers

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UNHCR welcomes the UK Supreme Court judgement on transfer of asylum-seekers

15 November 2023
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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes today’s judgment by the United Kingdom’s (UK) Supreme Court which found that the proposed transfer of asylum-seekers from the UK to Rwanda under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) would breach international and UK law.

We are not a claimant in the proceedings but have advised the Court on matters of international refugee law and protection standards. UNHCR’s role in the litigation has, throughout the case, been in our capacity as the UN agency with the mandate to supervise the application of the 1951 Refugee Convention worldwide.

UNHCR has consistently conveyed our deep concern about the “externalization” of asylum obligations and the serious risks it poses for refugees. UNHCR recognizes the challenges presented by irregular arrivals across the Channel, and calls for practical, workable alternatives to the MEDP arrangement, including through cooperation with European neighbours in the spirit of responsibility-sharing which lies at the core of the Refugee Convention. Fair and fast asylum procedures that respect international standards, and work with international partners to secure the safe and dignified return of those found not to be in need of protection, are critical. UNHCR also encourages greater cooperation with countries on the key routes along which refugees and migrants are moving, to address the root causes of displacement through peacebuilding and humanitarian and development aid, and to offer real alternatives to dangerous journeys, including through expanded safe and legal pathways.

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