Wilson Solicitors’ Immigration and Public Law Teams acted for two of the asylum seekers (RM and ASM) in the Court of Appeal case decided yesterday (https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/aaa-v-secretary-of-state-for-the-home-department/).

The appeal was heard by the three most senior judges (the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and the Vice President) over four days in April 2023.

In a majority judgment handed down yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld a general challenge to the Rwanda policy that removal of any person seeking asylum to Rwanda under the arrangement between the UK and Rwanda governments would entail a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, itself a breach of legislation passed by the UK Parliament in the Human Rights Act 1998. Vos MR and Underhill LJ gave separate judgments upholding the asylum seekers’ appeals on these points, with Lord Burnett dissenting.

The reason for the majority’s was the evidence of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as to the deficiencies in the Rwanda system for deciding individual asylum claims. These deficiencies were such that the Rwandan asylum would not provide reliable decisions on asylum claims made by potentially genuine refugees. They would thus be exposed to real risks of return to their countries of origin (refoulement). The people seeking asylum before the Court included people from countries with high asylum grant rates such as Syria and Iran.

Although the court did not accept that the decision-making process leading up to removal was inherently unfair, it identified deficiencies in the Home Office’s decision-making processes leading up to removal and stated that more detailed policy guidance was required.

The court rejected other points, including one which our client ASM led on that the Rwanda policy breached retained EU law, which stipulates that asylum seekers removed under safe third country arrangements should have a connection to the third country such that it would reasonable for them to go there. Another point pursued by our client RM is that the policy breaches the Refugee Convention because it constitutes a penalty on account of illegal entry prohibited by Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.

Our clients intend to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on points they were unsuccessful on. The Prime Minister has already announced the government’s intention to seek permission to appeal against the ruling that Rwanda is unsafe.

Wilson Solicitors also acts for a number of other individual asylum seekers who were originally booked on the June 2022 flight to Rwanda but who were taken off without having to lodge judicial review proceedings. The firm acts for many others who have received notices informing them of the government’s intention to remove them to Rwanda and who are living in asylum accommodation in a situation of limbo. They and many other people seeking asylum in similar situations will be relieved at yesterday’s judgment.

Daniel Merriman and Tim Davies act for RM, with barristers Richard Drabble KC, Alasdair Mackenzie, David Sellwood and Rosa Polaschek. Jed Pennington acts for ASM with Richard Drabble KC, Leonie Hirst and Angelina Nicolaou.

Image credit: UK Home Office

If you have a family law case you need assistance with, please contact Mavis on 020 8885 7986 to arrange for an appointment with a solicitor in the family team.

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