The BBC's April 23, 2024 Rwanda: Why a migrant plane won’t be taking off anytime soon contains the following:

Legal challenges

In June 2022, the battle to put the brakes on the first flight went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The first flight to Rwanda was cancelled minutes before take-off following a ruling by the court.

The ECHR told ministers the plane could not leave until British judges had been given the opportunity to properly examine the arguments being made against the Rwanda plan. And the UK's Supreme Court later ruled unanimously that the Rwanda scheme was unlawful.

Migrants will face a really tough challenge in the courts because the new Rwanda legislation tells judges to ignore a range of human rights safeguards baked into the UK's complicated constitution.

So expect to see specialist expert refugee organisations also knocking on the doors of the courts and launching a wider challenge to the plan.

There is also speculation that unions involved in the immigration system and civil service could join the fight if they conclude an order to ignore human rights laws in preparing to send migrants is, itself, unlawful.

Finally, we might even see a case launched to look at the plan's most controversial legal element. The new law orders the courts to treat Rwanda as a safe country - even though the Supreme Court said it is not presently.

I'm guessing the legislation does not literally instruct judges to ignore rights safeguards baked into the UK's constitution, but I'm wondering what language in the legislation might give a judge at least an opportunity to do so.

Implicit in my question is the premise that while the BBC article's language is inexact, there must be at least something to it.

  • 1
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I wonder if "a range of human rights safeguards baked into the UK's complicated constitution" refers only to the "safe country" status and to nothing else?
    – uhoh
    Apr 23 at 8:36
  • 1
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution the idea of the Rwanda plan is to destroy the incentive for people to cross over illegally from France into the UK. Australia executed an equivalent plan (Pacific Solution) with great success. Apr 23 at 18:14
  • 1
    @JonathanReez But Rwanda is maybe not a safe country after all. So just declaring it as such doesn't change reality. The best plan fails if conditions are different than anticipated. Apr 23 at 18:28
  • 2
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution that's a feature, not a bug. The UK wants to send a few thousand people in Rwanda, generate hundreds of news articles about horrible conditions there, which would in turn discourage the vast majority of future illegal entries. Rwanda not being safe/comfortable is the whole point. Apr 23 at 18:55
  • 1
    Deliberately choosing an unsafe country is counterproductive in terms of getting the policy done (not counterproductive in terms of faulting 'activist' lawyers and judges). The point isn't to have an unsafe destination country, the point is to have a destination country that is not the UK. (A) to deter migrants intending to come to the UK. (B) to persuade the British public (particularly right-leaning voters) Something Is Being Done about illegal immigrants and people seeking asylum after arriving illegally.
    – Lag
    Apr 24 at 7:54

1 Answer 1


Clause 2 of the Bill. Literally instructs judges to ignore safeguards in UK and international law.

  1. Safety of the Republic of Rwanda.
    (1) Every decision-maker must conclusively treat the Republic of Rwanda as a safe country
  • I wonder if "a range of human rights safeguards baked into the UK's complicated constitution" refers only to the "safe country" status and nothing else?
    – uhoh
    Apr 23 at 8:34
  • 2
    @uhohdoIreallydictate that is my understanding, yes.
    – Jontia
    Apr 23 at 8:37
  • 2
    There's also this
    – littleadv
    Apr 23 at 8:40
  • 3
    Seems ripe for a Judge writing a decision that reads "Republic of Rwanda is a safe country" and "Republic of Rwanda is not a safe country" therefore "whatever opinion I want to write". The deduction rule P ∧ ¬P ⊢ Q is well known.
    – Joshua
    Apr 23 at 17:36
  • 3
    @Joshua here's the most popular prediction market on whether anyone will actually be sent to Rwanda this year. Apr 23 at 17:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .