On 14 April 2022, the Prime Minister announced that anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since 1 January 2022 may be relocated to Rwanda for processing. Later that day, the SSHD noted that under the new Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) with Rwanda, those who have their asylum claim deemed as inadmissible in the UK may be relocated to Rwanda for processing under their asylum system. Despite publicly committing to relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda in April, it appears that the SSHD did not determine that Rwanda was a ‘safe third country’ until May.
The Claimants will argue that the Rwanda removals policy, as well as the removals of the four individual asylum seekers specifically, are unlawful. The bases for this argument include, but are not limited to: (i) the vires or legal authority of the SSHD to carry out the removals; (ii) the rationality of the SSHD’s conclusion that Rwanda is generally a ‘safe third country’; (iii) the adequacy of provision for malaria prevention; and (iv) compliance with the Human Rights Act.
An injunction is also sought to stop the flight. The hearing is set to take place this morning in the High Court.
At the date of publication, it is being reported that as many as 130 asylum seekers have been issued with Rwanda removal notices by the SSHD. All asylum seekers involved are expected to challenge the legality of removal. In response to the Rwanda removal notices a number of asylum seekers have begun hunger strikes.
An asylum claimant may be eligible for removal to Rwanda if their claim is inadmissible and (a) that claimant’s journey to the UK can be described as having been dangerous and (b) was made on or after 1 January 2022.
It is worth noting that the new provisions governing removal in the new Nationality and Borders Act 2022 do not come into force until 28 June. The government is therefore currently relying on asylum law from the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 by defining Rwanda as a ‘safe third country’ (Sch 1, para 17 and Sch 2, para 4(4)).
The SSHD has stated, “while we know attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals, I will not be deterred and remain fully committed to delivering what the British public expect.”
The Claimants are submitting that the SSHD has overstepped her authority by rushing through an unlawful policy and that she is intentionally turning a blind eye to the clear dangers and human rights violations that it would inflict on people seeking asylum. The SSHD has a common law duty not to induce breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights, including of Article 3 according to which: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
We await the outcome of the challenge and opinion of the court.
If you require any immigration advice please do not hesitate to contact of the Citizenship and Immigration Team.