The British Government has been defeated in the Court of Appeal over its plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, where their applications would be determined.
Handing down judgment yesterday (29 June), however, the Lord Chief Justice revealed a split decision, according to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales.
The judgment reverses a High Court decision that Rwanda was a safe third county.
“Unless and until deficiencies in its asylum process are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful,” Lord Burnett of Maldon said.
The appeal, brought by asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania, and charity Asylum Aid, was heard by Burnett, Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, and Lord Justice Underhill.
Vos and Underhill concluded that deficiencies in Rwanda’s asylum system were such that there were substantial grounds for believing “there would be a real risk of asylum seekers sent to Rwanda being returned to their home countries, where they faced persecution and other inhumane treatment when in fact they had a good claim for asylum”.
The Lord Chief Justice, however, reached the opposite conclusion, according to the Gazette.
Agreeing with the High Court’s decision, Burnett said that he believed that the procedures in place under the Rwanda agreement, and assurances given by Rwanda’s government, were sufficient that there was no real risk of asylum seekers being returned to their home countries where they faced persecution or inhuman treatment.
Burnett said that the chances of asylum seekers being returned to their countries of origin were low because Rwanda had no agreement with those countries.
Braverman signals appeal
While the appeal was upheld, Burnett stressed that the appeal court was not giving a view on the political merits of the Rwanda policy. “Our concern is only whether the policy complies with the law as laid down by parliament,” he stated.
The Gazette says that the judgment does not necessarily mark the end of the legal feud over the plan, with the court setting a tight timetable for consequential matters that include the prospect of an application for the dispute to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (pictured) said: “While we are disappointed with their ruling in relation to Rwanda’s asylum system, I will be seeking permission to appeal this. I remain fully committed to this policy, as does the Rwandan government."