29 June 2023

Campaigners and asylum seekers win Court of Appeal challenge against Rwanda policy

29 June 2023

Campaigners and asylum seekers have won a Court of Appeal challenge over the Government’s planned Rwanda deportation scheme.

In a decision on Thursday, three judges overturned a High Court ruling that previously said the east African nation could be considered a “safe third country”.

The Court of Appeal’s decision was announced by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett during a short hearing in London.

In December last year, two judges at the High Court dismissed a series of legal bids against the plans, finding the Rwanda proposals were consistent with the Government’s legal obligations.

However, lawyers for some individual asylum seekers and the charity Asylum Aid brought the successful challenge against their decision at the Court of Appeal.

At a hearing in April, lawyers for the group of asylum seekers argued that the High Court “showed excessive deference” to the Home Office’s assessment that assurances made by the Rwandan authorities “provide a sufficient guarantee to protect relocated asylum-seekers” from a risk of torture or inhuman treatment.

Lord Burnett, Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lord Justice Underhill were told that material provided by the Rwandan authorities “lacked credibility, consisting of blanket denials and clear contradictions”.

Lawyers for the Home Office opposed the appeal, telling the court the Rwandan government has “indicated a clear willingness to co-operate with international monitoring mechanisms” and that there are “reciprocal obligations with strong incentives for compliance”.

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