Response to the Supreme Court judgment on the Rwanda policy
We are delighted that the Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal that Rwanda is not a safe country for people seeking asylum and that no-one should be sent to Rwanda.
It is now time for the government to abandon measures under the Illegal Migration Act 2023 that would require the newly appointed Home Secretary to block people in need of protection from seeking asylum in the UK, and to send them to ‘third countries’ which would have included Rwanda.
Alison Pickup, Director of Asylum Aid, said:
"This Government not only ignored the advice provided to it in pursuing this cruel and ineffective policy but showed a complete lack of humanity. The men, women and children who arrive in the UK seeking sanctuary should be treated with dignity and given access to justice through fair procedures without fear of removal to a country they don't know and where their right to protection is unlikely to be upheld. There is no evidence that this policy will work as a ‘deterrent’ to people who have no choice but to flee their homes. Worse, it causes significant anxiety and harm to those already in the UK, living in permanent fear of removal to a country they don’t know. We call on the Government to re-evaluate its unworkable policy and to abandon the idea of forcibly removing people seeking asylum to third countries."
Press contact: Kennith Rosario on email@example.com or +44 7477118134
Note to editors:
- Asylum Aid is a leading provider of high-quality legal representation to people with complex cases who are seeking asylum in the UK. For over 30 years, Asylum Aid has worked with survivors of trafficking and torture, stateless people, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people seeking asylum to help them gain legal protection in the UK. Since 2020, Asylum Aid is part of the Helen Bamber Foundation Group.
- It had argued in the Court of Appeal that when the Home Office decides that a third country is a safe place to send people seeking asylum, individuals who are threatened with being sent there must be given reasonable time to make their legal case against this decision.
- The Court of Appeal agreed with Asylum Aid that people must have a fair opportunity to put forward a case that a third country is not safe, including where appropriate expert and other country evidence, as well as their own facts. The Court also held that fairness required effective access to legal representation in all but exceptional cases. It held that the 7-day timescale adopted by the Home Office was obviously too short for the majority of cases, and that the Home Office needed to adopt, and publish, a clear policy on granting of extensions to that timeframe where fairness required it. The Court therefore held that the system was not inherently unfair, because there was a way it could (with adaptations) be operated fairly. Asylum Aid did not appeal to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s ruling on its case.
- The appeal to the Supreme Court concerned the Home Secretary’s challenge to the Court of Appeal’s decision that Rwanda was not a safe place to send people seeking asylum, because there was a real risk they would be returned to the place they fear persecution without proper consideration of their claims. The Court also considered arguments about the risk of ill-treatment in Rwanda itself, about the Home Secretary’s duty to properly investigate the risks before deciding to send people to Rwanda, and about the application of retained EU law.