High Court rules Government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful

High Court rules Government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful

Government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful, the High Court has ruled.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid a series of challenges against individual removals and the policy

Government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful, the High Court has ruled.

Challenges were brought against the policy announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April, which she described as a “world-first agreement” with the east African nation in a bid to deter migrants from crossing the Channel.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid a series of challenges against individual removals and the policy as a whole.

Challenges were brought against the policy announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April.

Challenges were brought against the policy announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April.

Two judges at the Royal Courts of Justice gave their rulings on the legal bids against the policy this morning.

At a five-day hearing in September, lawyers for several asylum seekers, along with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and charities Care4Calais and Detention Action, argued that the plans are unlawful.

They told judges that Rwanda is an “authoritarian state” that “tortures and murders those it considers to be its opponents”.

The High Court in London also heard the Home Office had been told state agents have “regularly targeted” Rwandan refugees in other countries.

UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – intervened in the case, telling the court that Rwanda “lacks irreducible minimum components of an accessible, reliable, fair and efficient asylum system”, and that the policy would lead to a serious risk of breaches of the Refugee Convention.

In October, lawyers for the charity Asylum Aid also challenged the policy, arguing the policy’s procedure is “seriously unfair” and also unlawful.

The policy has also been contested on data protection grounds, with a Sudanese man arguing his personal data has unlawfully been shared with the Rwandan authorities.

Henry Nicholls

In a summary of the ruling read out in court, Lord Justice Lewis said: “The court has concluded that it is lawful for the Government to make arrangements for relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom.”

However, he added that the Home Secretary “has not properly considered” the eight individuals’ cases, which meant the decisions to send them to Rwanda would be quashed and sent back to be reconsidered.

It is likely that Monday’s decision will be appealed against.

Lord Justice Lewis said a further hearing would take place in mid-January to handle the consequences of the judgment, including costs and applications to go to the Court of Appeal.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

“Our ground-breaking Migration Partnership with Rwanda will provide individuals relocated with support to build new lives there, while disrupting the business model of people smuggling gangs putting lives at risk through dangerous and illegal small boat crossings.

“We have always maintained that this policy is lawful and today the Court has upheld this.

“I am committed to making this Partnership work – my focus remains on moving ahead with the policy as soon as possible and we stand ready to defend against any further legal challenge.”