Court of Appeal finds government’s cash for humans Rwanda deal unlawful
Today, the Court of Appeal has declared the government’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda unlawful. This comes a day after the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment to the government’s flagship Refugee Ban Bill that will require them to abide by a series of international human rights obligations. These 2 separate defeats leaves the government’s cruel anti-refugee agenda in tatters.
The Court itself held that the Rwandan asylum system did not adequately protect refugees from return to countries where they faced persecution. This means that Rwanda is not, despite UK government claims to the contrary, a “safe country” for refugees and in turn means that attempts by the government to remove refugees to Rwanda would be a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 3 imposes an absolute prohibition on torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and states cannot under any circumstances derogate from this legal obligation. As the consequence of exiling refugees to Rwanda could see them returned to countries where they faced such abuse, the UK government is therefore prohibited from carrying out such removals.
Rather than accept the Court’s judgment, the UK government has already confirmed it will appeal to the Supreme Court. This will see yet more public money wasted on what has already been a hugely expensive and thus far unsuccessful policy, with even the government’s own assessment concluding that removing a single person would cost £169,000.00.
Whilst thankfully no one has yet been removed to Rwanda under the scheme, its impact has still been felt by refugees. RAMFEL clients have since the scheme’s announcement in May 2022 repeatedly told our staff how the scheme caused them fear and anxiety, and the message from the government to those seeking sanctuary could not have been less welcoming. This damage will be hard to undo, especially as the government shows no sign of abandoning this policy.
For now though, all in the sector should celebrate this victory, which is crucial for the rule of law and human rights in the UK, but also for basic kindness and decency towards those who’ve left their home seeking safety.
If the government is serious about actually improving the UK’s asylum system, there are a number of steps they could take immediately: