Ten people from conflict zones seeking asylum in the UK were granted permission on Tuesday to appeal the Home Office’s decision to deport them to Rwanda. The asylum seekers claim the Home Office failed to consider the dangers and risks posed to their safety if deported.
The UK’s refugee removal deal with Rwanda has been widely criticised. Under the arrangement, Rwanda will accept asylum seekers for permanent settlement who arrive in the UK illegally but it prevents refugees from legally challenging their deportation. Successful asylum seekers will only be able to reside in Rwanda, instead of the UK, where they first claimed asylum and had hoped to find safety.
Despite its humanitarian aim to prevent human trafficking, there are concerns about the morality of the policy. Rwanda’s human rights abuses and the general poor protection of refugees’ rights have been raised to the High Court by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). These were considered by the High Court during Tuesday’s permission hearing; and were said to have been ignored by ministers and government officials.
Solicitor Sophie Lucas welcomed the court’s decision to grant permission to appeal. Lucas said, “The Rwanda policy is not compatible with fundamental human rights afforded to asylum seekers under the European convention on human rights, to which the UK was the first signatory, and the refugee convention.”
The International Convention on Refugees allows refugees to seek asylum in a country of their choosing. The UNHCR described the policy as “incompatible with the letter and spirit of the 1951 Convention.” The International Rescue Committee suggests, “Sending asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda to have their asylum claim processed undermines this international law.”
Some argue that the policy represents a push to outsource migration management, for the UK to absolve itself from international commitment and obligations, and according to the UN refugee chief, to “export its responsibilities to another country”.
The lawfulness of the Rwanda policy will further be considered in a full appeal hearing from 24th to 27th April 2023.