Asylum Aid launches legal action against Rwanda plan

07 May 2024 News

By sebra, Adobe

Asylum Aid has launched legal action against prime minister Rishi Sunak’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

The charity has launched legal action against the Home Office’s new Safety of Rwanda policy, claiming that it is inconsistent with the Safety of Rwanda Act and could put people at “great risk”. 

Lawyers on behalf of Asylum Aid have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Home Office.

However, a spokesperson for the government department said the policy and act work hand in hand. 

The highly contested Rwanda bill finally passed through the House of Lords last month, with the first flight to the east African country possibly to be on 1 July. 

Following the news, over 250 civil society organisations wrote to the prime minister calling it a “cruel law” that risked lives. 

Home Office: ‘Working at pace to get flights off the ground’

A spokesperson from the Home Office told Civil Society: “We have proven time and again that Rwanda is a safe country, most recently with our landmark Safety of Rwanda Act and joint, legally binding Treaty which makes clear that individuals relocated to Rwanda will not be returned to an unsafe country.

“We remain confident in the country’s strong and successful track record in resettling people and are working at pace to get flights off the ground to Rwanda in the next eight to ten weeks.”

The Home Office said it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings and that the Safety of Rwanda Act “limits unnecessary challenges” to the deportation of refugees to the country.  

Asylum Aid

Asylum Aid provides free legal representation to vulnerable people. 

Alison Pickup, executive director of Asylum Aid, said: “There is a lack of information on when flights to Rwanda will take off and who will be on them, but the government has made clear that it is determined to act quickly as we have already seen the Home Office carrying out forcible detentions.

“The panic this causes is made worse by the limited capacity to provide high quality legal representation in the legal aid and charity sector. 

“We have brought forward this legal action to ensure that the Home Office properly considers any individual cases against removal to Rwanda, including on the grounds that they would be returned from Rwanda to the place they fled.”

At the time of writing, a crowdfunder has gained almost £2,000 from 46 pledges to support its legal action.

The charity's legal case is represented by law firm Leigh Day.

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