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Asylum Aid begins legal challenge over Home Office’s new Safety of Rwanda policy


Charity argues new policy is unlawful as it fundamentally misunderstands section 4 of the Safety of Rwanda Act

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The Government is set to face a second legal challenge following the passing of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act, as the charity Asylum Aid announced on Friday that it was launching legal action over the Home Office's new Safety of Rwanda policy document.

Flag of RwandaImage credit: WikipediaOn Wednesday of last week, the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants and public service professionals, announced it had launched a judicial review arguing the Act conflicts with civil servants' duty to act lawfully.

Asylum Aid's legal challenge relates to the Home Office's new Version 1 of its Safety of Rwanda policy, which was published on 29 April 2024 and provides guidance for Home Office decision-makers when considering claims made by persons who are being considered for relocation to Rwanda.

The legal challenge will argue that the policy is unlawful as it fundamentally misunderstands and conflicts with section 4 of the Safety of Rwanda Act.

Asylum Aid explained: "The Home Office's policy … requires its caseworkers to assume that Rwanda is generally safe, as set out in section 2 of the Rwanda Act. It goes on to instruct caseworkers that when considering any protection claim made by a person being sent to Rwanda, they 'must' conclude that Rwanda is safe, even if presented with compelling evidence that it is not safe for that person based on their individual circumstances. It also tells caseworkers that they 'must not consider claims on the basis that Rwanda will or may remove or send the person in question to an unsafe state'. This, however, is at odds with the Rwanda Act, section 4, which allows a person seeking asylum to challenge their removal to Rwanda on the basis of 'compelling evidence relating specifically to the person's particular individual circumstances' that Rwanda is not safe for them."

On Thursday of last week, Asylum Aid sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Home Office urging it to amend the policy or otherwise Asylum Aid will proceed with a judicial review application.

Asylum Aid said: "We are worried that unless the guidance is amended, the Home Office decision makers will ignore compelling evidence showing that an individual would be in danger – including risks of persecution, torture or even death – if sent to Rwanda. This would be unlawful – even under the Safety of Rwanda Act, as officials are required to make sure sending people to Rwanda wouldn't breach their human rights."

The charity is crowdfunding for its legal challenge here.

Meanwhile, the Guardian last week published a copy of a 17-page Home Office document, available here, that has been handed to asylum seekers who have been detained pending possible relocation to Rwanda.