Rwanda appeal next month
Appeal judge widens scope of forthcoming challenge
A four-day appeal hearing will take place at the end of next month to test the lawfulness of the government’s plan to send some migrants to Rwanda.
Shortly before Christmas, two senior judges sitting in the High Court found it was lawful for the government to make arrangements for relocating asylum-seekers to the African country — and for their asylum claims to be decided there rather than in the United Kingdom. However, the home secretary Suella Braverman needed to decide whether there was anything about each person’s particular circumstances which meant that his or her asylum claim should be decided in the United Kingdom — or whether there were other reasons why that person should not be relocated to Rwanda. As she had not properly considered the circumstances of the eight individual claimants whose cases were before the court, those claims were referred back to her for reconsideration.
As expected, the asylum-seekers sought to take their generic claims to the Court of Appeal. Permission to appeal was granted on some grounds by the High Court in January. Yesterday, Lord Justice Underhill granted permission on some other grounds. That must widen the scope of the forthcoming hearing, although perhaps not by very much because some further grounds were dismissed.
Underhill, vice-president of the Court of Appeal Civil Division, is expected to sit as a member of a three-judge court that will consider the appeals in full on 24-27 April. If that court takes a month or so to prepare its judgment, then the losing side will not be able to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court before June. It seems unlikely that the case will finally be resolved before the autumn.
Yesterday’s ruling on permission was welcomed by lawyers for the asylum-seekers.
Entirely properly, the government will wait until the appeal process comes to an end before taking any further action. Braverman told MPs in December:
We know that further legal challenges are possible, and we will continue to defend this policy vigorously in the courts. However, once the litigation process has come to an end, we will move swiftly in order to be in a position to operationalise the policy and deliver on our promise.
New proposals in the government’s Illegal Migration Bill are currently being considered by parliament. Further legal challenges can be expected if and when these powers are used.
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