19 December 2022

What happens next with the plans to deport people to Rwanda?

19 December 2022

The High Court’s ruling that Government plans to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful is unlikely to lead to imminent removal flights amid potential further legal battles.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded following a series of objections against individual removals and the policy as a whole, including last-minute rulings from the Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights.

Eight asylum seekers, along with charities and the PCS union, brought legal action against the plans to give people one-way tickets to the east African nation.

After ruling in favour of the Government on Monday, 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 appeal.

Detention Action, Care4Calais, the PCS union and Asylum Aid all said they were disappointed with the ruling and were considering whether to appeal against the decision.

Downing Street said the Government was prepared to defend the Rwanda policy against “any further legal challenges” and that it was impossible to put a timetable on that while the possibility of further legal action remained.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We want it to be done as soon as possible. I don’t think, while there is possibility of further legal action, we can put a specific timeframe on it.”

Asked if there would be any flights in 2023, the spokesman said: “I can’t put a timeline on it. A lot will depend on if there is further legal action taken.”

Most bids to appeal a ruling at the High Court are heard Court of Appeal but require a judge to grant permission for the challenge to be heard.

Any appeal from the Court of Appeal’s decision could then potentially go to the Supreme Court.

For a proposed appeal to be considered by the UK’s highest court, a case has to raise a point of law of “general public importance”.

Lawyers for the asylum seekers and groups could also ask judges to allow them to “leapfrog” up to the Supreme Court, skipping the Court of Appeal entirely.

Any decision at the Supreme Court may then be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights.

In the cases of the eight asylum seekers who brought legal action over the specific decisions to deport them to Rwanda, rather than the policy as a whole, Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift said that the Home Secretary “has not properly considered” their circumstances.

For these individuals, the decision to send them to Rwanda will now be set aside and reconsidered by the Home Secretary.

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