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Charity to launch legal action against Home Office over Rwanda policy

03 May 2024 3 minute read
Photo Gareth Fuller PA Images

The charity Asylum Aid is to bring legal action against the Home Office over its policy on the safety of Rwanda.

Lawyers on their behalf have sent a pre-action letter to the department over the Safety of Rwanda policy, published late last month, saying it is inconsistent with the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act which became law last week.

Asylum Aid says it is concerned the policy could lead to the Home Office unlawfully denying people seeking asylum from entering the UK asylum system, and that the alleged inconsistency could lead to the Home Office refusing to consider evidence of individual risk.

‘Lack of information’

The charity’s executive director, Alison Pickup, 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.”

Unlawful

Tessa Gregory, partner at law firm Leigh Day, said: “Our client, Asylum Aid, has begun legal action as it is extremely concerned that the policy the Home Office has adopted to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful as it misconstrues the Safety of Rwanda Act as enacted by Parliament.

“Asylum Aid considers that the impact of the unlawful policy is that contrary to a key protection built into the Safety of Rwanda Act, all those threatened with removal to Rwanda will be deprived of proper consideration of their individual claims.”

The announcement of the potential legal action comes after the first migrants likely to be deported were detained.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to see flights to Rwanda off the ground by July after the act became law, though officials are primed for legal challenges made in the wake of the detentions as they accepted some of those being held could end up being released on bail.

The FDA trade union, which represents senior civil servants, has also threatened legal action.

Civil Service Code

The union said its move related to the relationship of the Civil Service Code with the Safety of Rwanda Act, and the power for a minister to determine whether to comply with an order made by the European Court of Human Rights.

A direction to ignore such an order would breach international law, which conflicts with the duty of civil servants under the Civil Service Code to act in compliance with the law, which includes international law, said the FDA.

A Government spokesman previously said: “The Home Office already sought advice from the director general of proprietary and ethics in the Cabinet Office on the issue of the Civil Service Code and claims over the legality of implementing the Rwanda deportation scheme under the new legislation.


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Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago

Funny how the civil service internal bod said go for it but the civil service unions are trying to make sure the civil service are not just “following orders”. Not all clear especially when a government that was prepared to break laws “in a limited way” are still calling the legal shots today.

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