Court of Appeal, reviewing the Supreme Court’s judgement, ruled that the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was illegal. The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that it is illegal to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. Two of the three judges ruled in favour of this, while the other defended the Supreme Court’s ruling that Rwanda is a safe third country.
In December 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda without assessing their asylum applications was lawful.
The Court of Appeal overturned the previous ruling on 29 June, ruling that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful unless the country’s asylum system was changed, the BBC reported.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented after the judgement: “While I respect the court, I fundamentally disagree with its conclusions. Rwanda is a safe country. The Supreme Court has recognised this. UNHCR has its own refugee plan for Libyan refugees in Rwanda. We will now ask for permission to appeal this decision.”
In the coming process, the ministers are expected to appeal the judgement at the Supreme Court.
In its judgement, the Court of Appeal said there was a “serious risk” that if the asylum seekers were sent to Rwanda, they would be returned to their home country and face persecution and ill-treatment there. Rwanda was thus ruled not to be a safe third country.
Supporters of the appeal against the Supreme Court ruling include the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), human rights lawyers, civil society organisations and a group of asylum seekers.
UNHCR, which attended the hearing, said Rwanda had committed various human rights violations against asylum seekers within its borders. These include forced return to countries where they are at risk, deportation and arbitrary detention.
Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania who crossed the English Channel in small boats from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania were among those who, together with the charity Asylum Aid, appealed the Supreme Court ruling.
Asylum Aid said the latest judgement ‘confirms the rule of law and the importance of justice’. “We are pleased that the court has ruled that the deportation process in Rwanda was unlawful on security grounds,” said Tessa Gregory, partner at law firm Leigh Day, which represented Asylum Aid. The human rights organisation Freedom From Torture called the ruling “a victory for reason and compassion”.
The Rwandan government argued that it was “one of the safest countries in the world” and was known for its “exemplary treatment of refugees”.
The judges who delivered the judgement said they agreed that the Rwandan government had given these assurances ‘in good faith’.