Today, the High Court laid down their judgement of the government’s plans to forcibly transfer people seeking asylum to Rwanda. The High Court judged the plans – as laid out – to be legal.
Sarah Teather, JRS UK’s Director, said: “The government’s plans to force people who have fled war, persecution and violence on to planes to Rwanda is cruel. The fact that it has been deemed to be legal does not change the fact that it is immoral. It will create fear and trauma for people who deserve our care.
Men, women, and age-disputed minors – children the government claims are adults – are among those being told they will be sent to Rwanda. The government intends also to send families to Rwanda. Over the last several months, JRS UK has supported 28 men, including torture survivors, facing removal to Rwanda.
“We have a responsibility to offer sanctuary to refugees. And yet the government is seeking to shirk that responsibility by forcing the transfer of asylum seekers to a much poorer and less stable country on another continent. We will continue to support asylum seekers placed in this awful situation and work with others try and bring the government to face its obligations.”
In April 2022, the government announced plans to forcibly and permanently send some people who seek asylum in the UK to Rwanda, under a new Migration and Economic Development Partnership between the UK and Rwandan governments. As part of the plan, the Rwandan government will then have responsibility for their asylum claims. It will process their claims and, crucially, if they are recognised as refugees, they will stay in Rwanda. The scheme has been very widely criticised as carrying a high risk of human rights abuses, abrogating the UK’s responsibilities to refugees, and being both costly and ineffective.
A flight was scheduled to take people to Rwanda on 14th June 2022. A number of attempts to stop it in UK courts had failed, but the European Court of Human Rights stopped the flight not on the basis that the scheme was illegal, but on the basis that ongoing cases in the UK courts must be played out before the flight could take place, as the outcome of these cases may have implications for the legality of the flight. Today, the High Court issued its ruling in one key case, and declared that the scheme was legal. The Court did, however, rule that the cases of 8 individual asylum seekers due to be sent to Rwanda had to be reconsidered, as they had not been examined properly in the first instance.
When the plan was initially being set out, the Home Office official in charge of orchestrating the plan refused to sign off on it due to lack of evidence that it would work, but then Home Secretary Priti Patel pushed forward with it by issuing a ministerial directive.
As government policy and the national conversation around refugees becomes increasingly hostile and divisive, all of us at JRS need your support more than ever to enable us to increase our response, to fight for the rights of all refugees, and to give people the strength and confidence to build a new life in the UK.
 Medical Justice found examples of all these groups in their study of 36 people given notices of intent stating they could be sent to Rwanda, as detailed in, “Who’s paying the price: the human cost of the Rwanda Scheme” (September 2022).