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‘Proper access to lawyer’ essential for Rwanda policy
House of Commons Pic: Shutterstock

19 Dec 2022 / global Print

‘Proper access to lawyer’ essential for Rwanda policy

Proper access to justice for any person considered for removal to Rwanda must remain paramount in Home Office decision-making, the Law Society of England and Wales said after the High Court ruled today (Monday 19 December) that the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful. 

The policy, which was announced in April, would involve Britain sending tens of thousands of illegal migrants who arrive on its shores to Rwanda – 6,400km away.

However, importantly, the court said that the Home Office had failed to consider the individual circumstances in the eight cases put before it, and must now reconsider them.

“This policy has far-reaching consequences for those affected, and it is absolutely vital each case is properly considered on its facts, as is made clear in today’s judgment,” Law Society President Lubna Shuja said.

“Legal challenges ensure government accountability, and court judgments provide clarity and independent scrutiny of State decisions.

“Today’s decision on the lawfulness of the policy is likely to be taken to the Court of Appeal, and it may therefore still be some time before the matter is completely settled.”

Measured approach

Lubna Shuja added: “Whatever the final outcome, we hope the government will commit to taking a measured approach, and continue to review its obligations under international and domestic law.

“When considering individual cases, the government should always assess whether removing the individual would be in breach of their human rights.

“The government must ensure that any affected individual has proper access to a lawyer, that the specific facts of each case are scrupulously considered by the Home Office, and enough time is provided for people to challenge a removal, when appropriate.

“Our members – solicitors in all areas of law – will be watching carefully to see that access to justice and the rule of law are preserved in whatever steps the government takes next.” 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland