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Charity files legal action against Home Office over Rwanda policy

Lawyers for Asylum Aid will now need to be given the green light by a judge to bring a full challenge (Victoria Jones/PA)
Lawyers for Asylum Aid will now need to be given the green light by a judge to bring a full challenge (Victoria Jones/PA)

Charity Asylum Aid has filed legal action against the Home Office over its Rwanda policy.

The charity previously sent a pre-action letter to the department over the Safety of Rwanda policy, published late April, saying it is inconsistent with the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act.

The charity 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.

Asylum Aid said on Tuesday that it had formally filed its legal challenge at the High Court in London, claiming the policy unlawfully tells decision makers not to consider the risk of Rwanda sending a person to another country where they would be at risk of torture, death, or other human rights abuse.

Lawyers for the charity will now need to be given the green light by a judge to bring the full challenge.

The charity’s executive director, Alison Pickup, said: “Our clients include vulnerable individuals, such as survivors of trafficking and torture, people with serious mental health problems, former unaccompanied children, and age-disputed children.

“They are extremely anxious and fearful about the possibility of being removed to Rwanda and it is vitally important that we are able to accurately advise them on how they may be able to challenge their removal.”

She added: “The Home Secretary has instructed caseworkers to ignore compelling evidence related to onward removal, even if it shows that an individual could be sent to a place where they face real risks of persecution, torture or even death.

“We are very worried that unless the guidance is urgently corrected, people could unlawfully be removed to Rwanda, in breach of the UK’s human rights obligations.”

The filing of the legal challenge comes after the Home Office was said to have accepted that its guidance needed to be amended and that an individual’s reasons why Rwanda was not a safe country for them needed to be considered.

Asylum Aid’s challenge is set to be the second legal challenge against the policy, with the FDA trade union’s claim over the Rwanda legislation due to be considered at a hearing in the first week of June.