8 June 2022

PCS and human rights groups challenge home secretary’s Rwanda removal policy in High Court

PCS, Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with 4 asylum seekers facing removal by plane to Rwanda on Tuesday, have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court, challenging the home secretary’s plan to remove asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

The claimants, represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors, argue that the Rwanda removals policy, as well as the removals of the 4 individual asylum seekers specifically, are unlawful on multiple bases. These include, but are not limited to:

  • the vires or legal authority of the home secretary to carry out the removals;
  • the rationality of the secretary of state’s conclusion that Rwanda is generally a “safe third country”;
  • the adequacy of provision for malaria prevention, and compliance with the Human Rights Act.

The claim has been issued as a matter of urgency, following Priti Patel’s scheduling of the first removal flight to Rwanda on Tuesday (14 June) and her refusal to give assurances that no removals to Rwanda would take place until the lawfulness of the Rwandan removals policy has been tested in court.

The claimants also seek an injunction in respect of the flight scheduled for 14 June.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS believes that the government's Rwanda plan is unlawful. In the past 5 years, we have lodged five judicial review applications against the government where they have breached the law. We are determined to hold them to account over this latest scheme.

“It appears this government have learned nothing from the Windrush scandal, among others. PCS is not prepared to countenance our members being put in potentially dangerous and traumatic situations, where they may be asked to act illegally.

“PCS is determined to work for a more humane environment on asylum and immigration. This would give our members the time, space and resources that they need to carry out their jobs properly and would improve the experience of refugees. This latest judicial review application is key to that endeavour.” 

James Wilson, deputy director of Detention Action, said: “In her desire to punish people for seeking asylum by forcing them on to a plane to Rwanda, Priti Patel has overstepped her authority.

“By rushing through what we say is an unlawful policy, she is turning a blind eye to the many clear dangers and human rights violations that it would inflict on people seeking asylum.

“It’s vital that new government policies respect and uphold the laws that we all, as a society, have agreed to follow. That’s why we're seeking an injunction to keep this plane to Rwanda from leaving the runway.”

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “We have spoken to nearly 100 people in detention who’ve been told they will be forcibly sent to Rwanda. Almost all are overwhelmed by total shock and despair.

“Many came to the UK believing it to be a good place that would treat them more fairly than the places from which they escaped.

“We say that the Rwanda plan is unlawful. We hope the courts will agree with us.”