The government’s proposals to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are legal, according to the High Court.
Challenges were launched against the strategy unveiled by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April, which she characterised as a “world-first agreement” with the east African country in an effort to dissuade migrants from crossing the Channel.
The first deportation flight – planned to take flight on June 14 – was delayed amid a succession of challenges against individual removals and the programme as a whole.
Yesterday, two justices at the Royal Courts of Justice issued decisions on the legal challenges to the policy.
Lawyers representing numerous asylum seekers, as well as the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and the NGOs Care4Calais and Detention Action, claimed that the plans are illegal during a five-day hearing in September.
They informed judges that Rwanda is a “authoritarian state” that “tortures and murders those it considers to be its opponents”.
The Home Office was also advised that state operatives “regularly targeted” Rwandan refugees in other countries, according to the High Court in London.
UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – participated in the case, stating the court that Rwanda “lacks irreducible minimum components of an accessible, reliable, fair and efficient asylum system”, and that the policy would lead to a substantial danger of violations of the Refugee Convention.
In October, attorneys for the organisation Asylum Aid challenged the policy, claiming that the method is “seriously unfair” and illegal.
The strategy has also been questioned on data privacy grounds, with a Sudanese individual saying his personal data has improperly been shared with the Rwandan authorities.