Update on the Rwanda Policy

03 Apr 2024, 12 mins ago

Following the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Rwanda policy, the Home Office is seeking to have Rwanda declared safe to allow the progression of the policy.

In November 2023, the UK’s Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal judgment that the Home Secretary’s Rwanda policy was unlawful. One concern of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court was that individuals deported would be at risk of refoulement (the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they would be at real risk of ill treatment).

Under the Human Rights Act 1998, asylum seekers are protected against refoulement. The Court of Appeal determined in November 2023 that any removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda before deficiencies in the Rwandan asylum system were corrected would be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Supreme Court further confirmed that the removal of individuals under the policy would be unlawful, since there was a “real risk” of ill treatment should asylum seekers be removed to Rwanda.

On 5 December 2023, the UK and Rwandan governments signed a treaty that introduces modifications to the Rwandan asylum system to ensure the adequacy of the Rwandan asylum system in response. Moreover, on 7 December 2023, the UK government introduced a new bill, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, that builds on the treaty and responds to the Supreme Court’s concerns. If approved, the Bill will allow the Parliament to confirm Rwanda as a safe third country.

Following the 3rd reading in the House of Lords on 12 March 2024, the bill is now at the stage were each House considers the amendments proposed by the other House, and the bill will go back and forth until both Houses agree on its exact wording. There are several issues the Houses are considering, including:

  • Age assessments and the removal of children.
  • The removal of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
  • The ability of courts and decision makers to consider appeals and claims that Rwanda is unsafe.
  • Ensuring compliance with domestic and international law.
  • The removal of those who have supported British armed forces overseas.

On 19th March 2024, the House of Commons voted against all these amendments. The Bill will now go back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons until both Houses can try and agree on the final wording.

Voluntary Departure Scheme

On 12th March 2024, a new Home Office scheme was reported. Under this scheme, the Home Office would offer money to those migrants whose asylum applications have been refused to relocate to Rwanda instead of their country of origin. This is separate to the initial Rwanda policy described above. It is important to stress that this is a voluntary scheme, and if you are contacted by the Home Office, you should seek legal advice.

How Gherson Can Assist

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The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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