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The government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is “probably dead” after it was ruled unlawful this week by the Supreme Court, one of its former justices has said.

The court confirmed its “unanimous” decision on Wednesday after 18 months of legal battles, saying those sent to the country would be at “real risk” of being returned home, whether their grounds to claim asylum were justified or not – breaching international law.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to push on with the scheme – which aims to deter asylum seekers travelling to the country on small boats – promising to turn the agreement with the east African nation into a legally binding treaty to allay the court’s fears, and to change the law in the UK to define Rwanda as a “safe country”.

And Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips it was the government’s “plan” to bring forward the new treaty and legislation quickly.

But speaking on the same programme, Lord Sumption said such measures “wouldn’t work internationally”, adding it was not a proposal to change the law “but to change the facts”.

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Sunak presses ahead with Rwanda plan

MPs on the right of the Conservative Party have been up in arms since the ruling – including the recently sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, who has demanded the government withdraws from international treaties like the European Human Rights Convention or ignores the obligations to ensure the Rwanda scheme can go ahead.

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But Lord Sumption called that option “extreme”.

Defending the court’s ruling, he said: “They carefully avoided the political broader merits of the Rwanda project. They confined themselves to looking at whether Rwanda was a safe place to send people to. That was the sole issue.

“And what they decided was that it wasn’t because Rwanda’s record of expelling refugees to places which are or may be unsafe was bad, and because Rwanda just didn’t have the cultural, administrative or political substructure which was necessary to perform an agreement of that sort.”

The peer added: “You can’t in a matter of weeks or months or even years simply turn a country like that into one with an impartial civil service, an independent judiciary and the whole administrative culture.

“Ultimately, what the main problem about this scheme is that it outsources to Rwanda the decision about whether people have refugee status or not. And Rwanda just is not up to the job.”

Read more:
Analysis: PM’s suggestion after Rwanda ruling is disingenuous
Explainer: What we know about the future of the Rwanda scheme – and what we don’t

Lord Sumption said changing the UK law to insist the country is safe may work “domestically”, but even if the government chose to ignore its obligations to international treaties initially, it would “presumably intend to comply” with final orders from the European court.

Asked by Trevor Phillips if the scheme was now “dead” as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the peer said: “I think the current Rwanda’s scheme is probably dead, but we obviously have to suspend judgements until we see what this legislation or this new treaty looks like.

“There are other possibilities. They’re not terribly attractive, but they do exist.”

Asked if he was comfortable with a change in the law to ensure the Rwanda scheme could push ahead, Mr Hunt told Trevor Phillips: “Yes, that is our democratic right as members of parliament, we made that commitment to the British people.”

On small boat crossings, the chancellor said the government was “making progress, but we haven’t yet finished the job”, adding: “We’ve been very clear we will do what it takes because a government’s job is to secure borders.

“We don’t think the system at the moment is fair to the British people, and nor is it fair to the people who are being smuggled by these evil gangs. We should decide who comes here and not those gangs.

“We will do it lawfully. And if we need to change the law, we’ll do that.”

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Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts




Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts

The Singaporean government released its updated national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) 2.0 on Dec. 4, in which it outlined how it plans to embrace innovation and tackle the challenges coupled with the technology. 

Singapore structured its AI strategy into three distinct systems, consisting of ten “enablers,” which drive those systems and then 15 action steps to make the system work. It’s first AI strategy was introduced in 2019.

The updated plan’s systematic approach focuses on three main areas of its society, including what it calls “activity drivers,” “people and communities,” and “infrastructure and environment.”

Building a smart nation

Among the action steps is Singapore’s plan to develop new AI “Centers of Excellence” (CoEs) across companies operating in the country to foster “sophisticated AI value creation and usage in key sectors.”

The updated AI plan also has benchmarks of equipping governmental agencies with “specialized knowledge, technical capabilities, and regulatory tools” and “sharpening” AI proficiency in all Singaporean public officers.

According to the vision, Singapore plans to use its government capacity to create resources to support AI adoption in the public sector.

Additionally, it said it plans to boost its quantity of “AI practitioners” or local experts to 15,000 through scaling up AI-specific training programs and technology and AI talent pipelines, and that it “remains open” to global talent.

The report said that various tech training programs centered around AI development have placed over 2,700 individuals in “good jobs” to date.

Increasing compute

Singapore, like many other countries around the world, said it also plans to increase its computing capacity.

To do this, Singapore said it plans to “deepen” partnerships with major players in the industry, including chipmakers and cloud services providers (CSPs), as well as support local Singapore-based compute industry firms.

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It plans to implement its action steps over the next 3-5 years to support its ambitions in the AI sector.

Singapore follows other countries in its push to embrace AI. Recently, at its AI Safety Summit, the United Kingdom said it plans to invest 300 million pounds into obtaining and operating 2 AI supercomputers to boost its own footprint in the global AI race. 

OpenAI, one of the world’s leading AI developers, announced a partnership with G42 in Dubai to expand its reach into the Middle East region.

Meanwhile, the United States, one of the world’s top chip manufacturing hubs, has begun to tighten export controls targeting certain countries on its technology to develop and power high-level AI systems.

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