24,000+ UK asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda despite court ruling
The possible deportation comes despite the fact that the scheme was declared illegal by an appeals court.
The UK Home Office may deport more than 24,000 asylum seekers from roughly one-third of the world's countries to Rwanda in the future, despite the fact that the scheme was declared illegal by an appeals court on Thursday. According to Home Office data obtained through a freedom of information request, between January 2021 and March 2023, 24,083 asylum seekers received letters informing them that they were being considered for forcible removal.
After the Home Office has ruled that an asylum claim is inadmissible, a letter of intent is issued. This means that the case cannot be decided in the UK because the asylum seeker passed through a safe country before arriving in the country.
The intent is to send the person to a safe third country to have their claim decided there. Rwanda is the only country with which the UK has an agreement to do so, but due to ongoing legal proceedings, these cases have become part of the Home Office's record backlog.
Although the court of appeals ruled that the agreement was illegal, the UK and Rwandan governments have stated that they are both committed to seeing it through. Following the decision of the Court of Appeals, the government announced on Thursday that it would seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Toufique Hossain, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, who represented seven of the asylum seekers threatened with forcible removal to Rwanda in the legal challenge that succeeded in the court of appeal on Thursday, said, “Torture survivors from places like Iran, Eritrea, Syria, and Sudan are languishing in the asylum system with no real prospect of being removed to Rwanda. The dehumanizing impact of living in limbo like this is cruel. The Home Office should urgently review its policy and process these claims immediately.”
Steve Smith MBE, the CEO of the refugee charity Care4Calais, said, “Over two-thirds of the refugees we work with who have received Rwanda notices have reported indicators of modern slavery and torture. It is shameful that, having already created a record backlog of asylum claims by not processing them efficiently, the government has paused tens of thousands more. This only serves to inflict more trauma on the survivors of modern slavery and torture.”
The Home Office declined to comment on the data, but it is understood that while all those issued with notices of intent could not be moved to Rwanda, the UK government's hope is to fly as many people as possible there once the legal case is resolved in the government's favor.