The government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are legal, according to the High Court.
The policy announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel, which she described as a “world-first agreement” with the east African nation in an attempt to deter migrants from crossing the Channel, was challenged.
The first deportation flight, scheduled to take off in June, was cancelled due to a slew of legal challenges to individual removals and the policy as a whole.
This morning, two judges at the Royal Courts of Justice issued decisions on the legal challenges to the policy.
At a five-day hearing in September, lawyers for several asylum seekers, along with the Public and Commercial Services union and charities Care4Calais and Detention Action, argued the plans are unlawful.
They told judges that Rwanda is a “authoritarian state” that “tortures and murders those it considers to be its opponents”.
The High Court in London also heard the Home Office had been told state agents have “regularly targeted” Rwandan refugees in other countries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) intervened in the case, telling the court that Rwanda “lacks irreducible minimum components of an accessible, reliable, fair, and efficient asylum system,” and that the policy would put refugees at risk of violating the Refugee Convention.
Lord Justice Lewis stated in a summary of the ruling read aloud in court, “The court has concluded that it is lawful for the Government to make arrangements for relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than the United Kingdom.”