22 May 2022

PCS remains committed to more humane asylum and immigration environment as Home Office makes Rwanda flights announcement

The Home Office has confirmed that there will be no flights to Rwanda before 6 June but has not confirmed when the first flight is scheduled to depart.  

PCS, Care4Calais and Detention Action have received a response from the Home Office to their second pre-action letter, which challenged home secretary Priti Patel’s plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda. They are represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

Last week the government reported that 50 people seeking asylum were issued with notices of intent which state that the Home Office is considering whether to deem their asylum claims inadmissible in the UK and consider their eligibility for removal to Rwanda.  

It is understood that many of those with the notices are being held in immigration detention centres across England, including Yarl’s Wood, Colnbrook, Harmondsworth and Brook House.

PCS, Care4Calais and Detention Action continue to consider that there are human rights and refugee law concerns with any such removals.  

The home secretary is still refusing to publish the suitability criteria, which determines who is eligible for removal to Rwanda.  

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS believes that the government's Rwanda plan is unlawful. In the past five 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. Our members are sick of clearing up the mess resulting from ministerial incompetence. PCS is not prepared to countenance our members being put in potentially dangerous and traumatic situations, where they may be asked to act illegally and be liable to prosecution.

“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.”

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “The government has now rounded up young survivors of torture and slavery and issued them with notices of Intent.  

“Standing with the people threatened, we intend to challenge the premise of this punishing policy and the undemocratic secrecy that surrounds it.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “The one thing that all refugees have in common is that something truly terrible has happened to them.

“Now they are facing the further trauma of being sent by force across the globe. Sending them to Rwanda would breach their rights, cost taxpayers millions and break international law

“We’re fighting it, and we believe the public will support us.”