Rwanda scheme ruled unlawful in win for asylum charity

The ruling serves a huge blow to Suella Braverman's Rwanda plan

The Home Secretary has been dealt a huge blow in her plans to send asylum seekers on a plane to Rwanda after the scheme was deemed unlawful by the UK Court of Appeal today.

Judges concluded that Rwanda was currently not a safe country to receive asylum seekers from the UK, after the plan was challenged in court by the charity Asylum Aid along with 10 asylum seekers.

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, said in court: “The High Court’s decision that Rwanda is a safe third country is reversed. Unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.”

Two out of three of the judges ruled that the government’s plan to forcibly move asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed was unlawful. It overturns a previous court hearing in December which deemed that it was lawful to send some people to Rwanda.

The £140 million Rwanda deal has been slammed for already wasting money and energy which could have gone on increasing staff numbers to tackle the backlog and processing of asylum seekers already, rather than into a scheme now deemed unlawful.  

Lib Dem Councillor Hina Bokhari said it was a ‘huge win for human rights in the UK’.

She wrote on Twitter: “We knew that these plans by Conservatives were cruel and immoral from the start. We must treat refugees with compassion and respect. Giving them the right to work while their claims are processed should be the next step.”

The charity Care4Calais, who have been involved in campaigns against the scheme, expressed that they were ‘truly relieved’ about the verdict this morning.

Caroline Lucas wrote it was ‘excellent news’ and referred to the scheme as ‘utterly inhumane, grotesquely immoral and totally unworkable’ and now ‘illegal and in clear breach of human rights law’. She added it was, ‘time for an asylum policy which treats people with respect and diginity’.

Rishi Sunak has come out to say he ‘fundamentally disagrees’ with the court ruling, and stated how the government will now seek permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, in what looks to be a lengthy and costly battle.

The appeal was won on the grounds that there was reason to believe there is a real risk people sent to Rwanda will be returned to their home countries where they were fleeing, as the judges concluded, ‘Rwanda is not a ‘safe third country’.

However, the Rwanda government released a statement taking issue with the verdict.

A spokesperson said: “Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world and we have been recognized by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees.

“Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work. The broken global migration system is failing to protect the vulnerable, and empowering criminal smuggling gangs at an immeasurable human cost. When the migrants do arrive, we will welcome them and provide them with the support they’ll need to build new lives in Rwanda.”

Justice organisations have pushed for safe and legal routes to the UK to be prioritised, over the Rwanda scheme, in order to protect the human rights of people fleeing persecution and war.

It follows on from the news that the government’s Illegal Migration Bill suffered multiple defeats in the House of Lords last night, in another challenge to Tory MP attempts to push through unethical and dangerous legislation on migration.

(Photo credit: UK Home Office / WikiCommons)

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

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