February 6, 2023
Wilsons is acting for two people seeking asylum in the lead legal challenges to the government’s policy of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda. ASM fears persecution in Iraq and RM in Iran. They both travelled through European countries before arriving in the UK, including France.
All of the general arguments challenging the policy were dismissed by the High Court in a judgment published on 19 December 2022. One of our clients, RM, was partially successful: he had the decision refusing his human rights claim quashed and the Home Secretary has been ordered to pay some of his legal costs.
Both of our clients have permission to appeal on the grounds that the policy breaches EU legislation, which it is argued is still part of UK law under legislation providing for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Our client ASM’s other ground is that the policy is inconsistent with a good faith interpretation of the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention, contrary to Article 31 of the Vienna Convention. That is, that the policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda, a country with which they have no connection, for the express purpose of deterring other asylum seekers from travelling to the UK to seek refuge, is contrary to the spirit and purpose of the Refugee Convention in circumstances where there are no safe regular routes for such people to seek refuge in the UK
RM also argues that the policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda constitutes a penalty in breach of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.
These grounds of appeal do not depend upon Rwanda being the destination country. This means that the final ruling by the UK courts on these grounds could impact on the ability of the UK government to reach similar deals with other countries and remove asylum seekers to those countries.
RM has other grounds of appeal that are specific to the UK’s deal with Rwanda and the situation in that country. In particular, he argues that the non-binding assurances made by Rwanda as part of the deal cannot be relied upon to adequately address concerns that individual asylum seekers’ human rights will be breached, either because of the situation pertaining in Rwanda or the risk of onward removal to a country where they face persecution or other ill-treatment. RM also argues that the High Court’s approach to evidence provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was mistaken.
Jed Pennington is representing ASM and Daniel Merriman RM. The counsel teams in both cases are headed by Richard Drabble KC. ASM is also represented by Leonie Hirst and Angelina Nicolaou; and RM by Alasdair Mackenzie, David Sellwood and Rosa Polaschek.
If you have a family case where you require some advice or representation, please contact Mavis for an appointment with a family solicitor on 020 8885 7986.