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29 June 2023

Comment: Court of Appeal deems Rwanda policy unlawful

2 mins

The Court of Appeal has found that the UK government’s plan to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

The High Court had previously dismissed the challenges to the lawfulness of the plan, dubbed ‘the Rwanda policy’, but had quashed decisions to remove individual asylum seekers on the basis of procedural unfairness in their particular cases. The appeal to the Court of Appeal was therefore against the High Court’s decision on the generic challenge of the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy.

There were many grounds of appeal but ultimately, the Court only allowed the appeal on one issue – whether Rwanda is a safe third country. The Court found that Rwanda’s system for deciding asylum claims is inadequate. This meant that there were substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that people sent to Rwanda will be returned to their home countries where they faced persecution when, in fact, they have a good claim for asylum.

It is very likely that this case will proceed to the Supreme Court. However, the result of this decision is that asylum seekers cannot be removed to Rwanda unless, and until, the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected.

This is very welcome news. It has become increasingly apparent that the Rwanda policy is unworkable, as recent government analysis has revealed that the cost of sending a single person seeking asylum to Rwanda amounts to almost £170,000. The Court of Appeal judgment reinforces the need for the UK government to formulate an effective asylum policy which provides a fair, safe, and just system of determining people’s asylum claims.

Finally, huge credit and congratulations must be given to all the legal teams involved for achieving this positive outcome for their clients.

For more information about our Immigration, Asylum and Nationality team and the services we offer, visit our web page here.

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