Government plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, Court of Appeal rules | Politics News

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

Three judges have overturned a High Court ruling that previously said the east African nation could be considered a “safe third country” for migrants to be sent to.

It is the latest court verdict in a long-running legal battle to get the controversial scheme up and running, after it was announced last April as part of plans to crack down on Channel crossings.

Announcing the ruling, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said he does not accept that migrants would be at risk of removal to their home countries from Rwanda – but it is not a safe place for them to housed in while their asylum claims are processed.

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The judge concluded: “The result is that the High Court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed, and unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum process are corrected, removal of asylum seekers will be unlawful.”

The Rwandan government said it took “issue” with the ruling, calling the nation “one of the safest countries in the world”.

Lord Burnett said the court reached its conclusion on the law and took “no view whatsoever” about the political merits of the policy.

“Those are entirely a matter for the government, on which the court has nothing to say,” he added.

In December last year, two judges at the High Court dismissed a series of legal bids against the government’s plan to provide asylum seekers with a one-way ticket to the east African country.

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

The latest ruling was welcomed by Green MP Caroline Lucas who tweeted: “Excellent news that Court of Appeal has ruled Braverman’s utterly inhumane, grotesquely immoral & totally unworkable #Rwanda scheme to be illegal too – & in clear breach of human rights law. Time for an asylum policy which treats people with respect & dignity.”

The government wants to send tens of thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles away to Rwanda as part of a £120m deal agreed with the government in Kigali last year.

The policy was introduced under Boris Johnson but has been pushed forward by his successors as part of their plans to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

Government hits another legal brick wall

Liz Bates is a political correspondent

Liz Bates

Political correspondent


Rishi Sunak has staked his premiership on a promise to ‘stop the boats’.

Whilst Suella Braverman has said that deporting migrants to Rwanda is her “dream”.

But like those that came before them, this prime minister and his home secretary have found themselves locked in court battles over this controversial policy, yet to get it off the ground.

Today, they have hit yet another legal brick wall, with the court of appeal ruling it unlawful.

This pushes back their original ambition to see flights this summer, and will likely now go to the Supreme Court.

With a general election on the horizon, the Prime Minister is desperate to demonstrate progress on this issue before voters head to the ballot boxes.

That said, if the threat of deportation continues to be ineffective at deterring channel crossings, the legal log jam could become a convenient political excuse.

However, no one has made the journey yet.

A flight was stopped at the eleventh hour in June last year after an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Campaigners have said the policy is “cruel and will cause great human suffering”, and fought through the courts to stop it from happening.

But the government argues the current system “incentivises” people to make dangerous journeys across the Channel and doing nothing is “not an option”.

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