Plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, UK appeal court rules


Three senior judges have ruled that it is unlawful for the UK government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

The court of appeal ruling from Lord Burnett, Sir Geoffrey Vos, and Lord Justice Underhill follows a four-day hearing in April against a high court ruling last December that found it was lawful to send some asylum seekers, including small boat arrivals, to Rwanda to have their claims processed rather than dealing with their applications for sanctuary in the UK.

The illegal migration bill, now passing through parliament, states that all asylum seekers arriving via “irregular means” could face being forcibly removed to Rwanda.

The court heard from UNHCR that Rwanda had a record of human rights abuses towards refugees within its borders, including refoulement – forced removal to countries where they are at risk – expulsions and arbitrary detention. The refugee agency warned that the Home Office would not be able to guarantee the safety of asylum seekers who were deported to the east African country.

But Sir James Eadie KC, counsel for the home secretary, said she was confident that the government of Rwanda would abide by undertakings given in a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries.