As it happenedended1688072945

Rwanda appeal ruling – live: Braverman says ‘it’s not over yet’ as she doubles down on ‘unlawful’ asylum deal

Court of Appeal judges concluded that the African nation is not a safe country to receive refugees

Holly Evans,Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 29 June 2023 22:09 BST
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Suella Braverman says she ‘respectfully disagrees’ with Rwanda ruling

Home secretary Suella Braverman has insisted “it’s not over yet” as she doubled down on her Rwanda asylum plan, after it was ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal.

The plan to forcibly deport small boat migrants to the African nation was blocked on Thursday, with judges concluding it is not a safe country to receive asylum seekers from the UK.

The Court of Appeal had granted an appeal by asylum seekers selected for deportation after the High Court ruled in December that the plan was lawful. Following Thursday’s judgement, Rishi Sunak said he “fundamentally disagreed” and would appeal to the Supreme Court.

That process will take several more months and threatens the passage of the new Illegal Migration Bill, which aims to see small boat migrants detained and deported without asylum claims being considered.

Addressing the Commons, Ms Braverman insisted “the British people will no longer indulge the polite fiction that we have a duty or infinite capacity to support everyone in the world who is fleeing persecution”, adding: “It is unfair on those who play by the rules and who want to see an asylum system that is fit for purpose.”

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Court of Appeal rules Government’s Rwanda policy is unlawful

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful. Three judges have overturned a High Court judgement that previously said the African nation could be considered a “safe third country”.

Lord Chief Justice Burnett, who heard the appeal with Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lord Justic Underhill in April, concluded that deficiencies in the asylum system in Rwanda mean there is a “real risk” of asylum seekers being returned to their home country or facing persecution.

Lawyers for some of the individuals selected for deportation had argued that the High Court had showed “excessive deference” to assurances made by the Rwandan authorities that they would “provide a sufficient guarantee to protect relocated asylum-seekers” from a risk of inhumane treatment.

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:27
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Judges took ‘no view’ on political merits of Rwanda policy

Lord Burnett said the court reached its conclusion on the law and took “no view whatsoever” about the political merits of the policy.

He added: “The result is that the High Court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed and that unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.

“Finally, the Court of Appeal makes clear that its decision implies no view whatever about the political merits or otherwise of the Rwanda policy.

“Those are entirely a matter for the Government, on which the court has nothing to say.

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:31
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Judges concluded Rwanda’s system for deciding asylum claims was ‘inadequate’

Lord Burnett, who disagreed with the other two judges and concurred with the High Court’s ruling, added: “That conclusion is founded on the evidence which was before the High Court that Rwanda’s system for deciding asylum claims was, in the period up to the conclusion of the Rwanda agreement, inadequate.

“The court is unanimous in accepting that the assurances given by the Rwandan government were made in good faith and were intended to address any defects in its asylum processes.

“However, the majority believes that the evidence does not establish that the necessary changes had by then been reliably effected or would have been at the time of the proposed removals.

“In consequence sending anyone to Rwanda would constitute a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, with which Parliament has required that the Government must comply.”

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett delivered the ruling this morning

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:34
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Threat of deportation ‘causing huge distress, anxiety and trauma’ to asylum seekers

In a statement after the ruling, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “We are relieved that the Court of Appeal has ruled that Rwanda is not a safe country for people who claim asylum. However, we’re disappointed that they have not concluded that the overall policy is unlawful.”

“Let’s remember that the UK made an international commitment under the Refugee Convention to provide a safe haven for those fleeing for their lives who seek protection on our soil. This is a source of pride for British people. We must not now turn our backs on this commitment and on the men, women and children from countries like Sudan and Afghanistan who come to us for safety.”

“The threat of being sent to Rwanda has been causing huge distress, anxiety and trauma to those we work with, who have already been through so much. We hope that the Government will take this opportunity to rethink its approach, which would cause great human suffering and damage the UK’s reputation as a country that values human rights and offers those claiming asylum a fair hearing on British soil.”

“Treating people seeking safety like human cargo and shipping them off to another country is a policy that is both unprincipled and unworkable.”

“The Home Office itself this week admitted that it has no evidence that its punitive policies will have a deterrent effect. This is an exorbitantly expensive project that may make headlines but will do absolutely nothing to sort out the very real problems in our asylum system.”

“Instead of pursuing impracticable and costly legislation and policies, the Government should now focus on operating an orderly, humane

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:35
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Campaigners called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to abandon plans to send migrants to Rwanda, describing it as an “unworkable and unethical fever dream of a policy”.

Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said: “This verdict is some rare good news in an otherwise bleak landscape for human rights in the UK. Hopefully, it will be respected by the government and we can consign this cruel and inhumane proposal to the history books.

“The Home Secretary should now abandon this unworkable and unethical fever dream of a policy and focus her efforts on fixing our broken and neglected migration system.

“This verdict presents the Government with an opportunity to change course. Rather than treating human beings like cargo it can ship elsewhere, it should be focusing on ending the hostile environment towards refugees and asylum seekers.”

Campaigners call on Suella Braverman to abandon plans to send migrants to Rwanda

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:38
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Charity Asylum Aid says ruling is ‘vindication of the importance of the Rule of Law’

Charity Asylum Aid, which brought the challenge alongside several asylum seekers, described the Court of Appeal’s ruling as a “vindication of the importance of the Rule of Law and basic fairness when fundamental rights are at stake.”

Alison Pickup, the charity’s director, said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has upheld the argument that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers.

“While we are disappointed that the court has held that the process can be made fair, we are pleased that it has not upheld the High Court’s judgment and has made it clear that the Government needs to ensure that Home Office officials give people more time when they need it.

“Basic standards of fairness and decency require that individuals are told why a decision as significant as sending them to a country thousands of miles away is being made, and have a fair chance to set out their case on all aspects of that decision.

“The Court of Appeal’s judgment is a vindication of the importance of the Rule of Law and basic fairness when fundamental rights are at stake.”

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:40
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Timeline of government’s policy to deport migrants

The Rwanda deal to deport asylum-seekers has been ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal, after judges concluded it is not a safe country to receive those claiming refuge.

Flights will remain suspended ahead of an expected government appeal of the decision at the UK’s Supreme Court.

The ruling reverses a High Court decision in December that ruled Suella Braverman’s deal was lawful. That followed a three-day appeal hearing in April with lawyers representing six men chosen for deportation arguing that the Home Office had breached legal duties and had failed to investigate a similar deal between the African nation and Israel.

This is how events leading up to this point unfolded, starting with the announcement of the scheme in April 2022.

Rwanda asylum plan: Timeline of government’s policy to deport migrants

How the events leading up to the Rwanda plan’s return to court and Suella Braverman’s conservatism speech unfolded

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:42
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Ruling raises possible need to quit ECHR, says senior Tory

Former Tory cabinet minister Simon Clarke said the court ruling was “deeply disappointing”.

He suggested it should pave the way for the UK to quit the European Convention of Human Rights overseen by the European Court of Human Rights.

“We have to be able to control our borders. If the ECHR continues to forestall this, we have to revisit the question of our membership,” he tweeted.

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:43
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Rwandan Government takes ‘issue’ with Court of Appeal ruling

The Rwandan Government said it took “issue” with the Court of Appeal’s ruling as it described the east African nation as “one of the safest countries in the world”.

Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said: “While this is ultimately a decision for the UK’s judicial system, we do take issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees. Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world and we have been recognised by the UNHCR and other international institutions for our exemplary treatment of refugees.

“We make a significant contribution to dealing with the impacts of the global migration crisis. Rwandans know what it means to be forced to flee home, and to make a new life in a new country.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman during her visit to Rwanda (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“As a society, and as a government, we have built a safe, secure, dignified environment, in which migrants and refugees have equal rights and opportunities as Rwandans. Everyone relocated here under this partnership will benefit from this.

“Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work. The broken global migration system is failing to protect the vulnerable, and empowering criminal smuggling gangs at an immeasurable human cost.

“When the migrants do arrive, we will welcome them and provide them with the support they’ll need to build new lives in Rwanda.”

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:47
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‘Government should completely abandon Rwanda deal’, says charity

In response to the Court of Appeal ruling, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: “This judgment is very welcome, but it can’t undo the enormous suffering, harm and expense already caused by the Government’s long and reckless pursuit of a patently unjust scheme.

“This totally misguided bid to expel people seeking asylum thousands of miles away to Rwanda - a country with its own asylum and human rights challenges - was always an expensive and deeply cruel injustice.

“The Rwanda deal is a cynical distraction from the pressing need to radically reform our own chronically failing asylum procedures - which are slow, increasingly chaotic and leave thousands of people stranded in limbo for years.

“The Government should now completely abandon the Rwanda deal - and any others like it - before doing any more damage to our international reputation or to the people threatened by such plans.

“Shamefully, the Government is still trying to force legislation through Parliament to compel it to expel from the UK almost everyone who may ever seek asylum here.

“While this judgment may mean that ministers must rethink their plan to use Rwanda for that purpose, they should take this as the opportunity to stop playing politics with people’s lives, scrap the reckless immigration bill and get down to the serious task of fairly and efficiently deciding the claims of the still relatively few people who seek asylum here.”

Holly Evans29 June 2023 11:49

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