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Divisional Court hands down judgment in judicial review claims challenging removal to Rwanda


On 19 December 2022, the Divisional Court handed down an important judgment in claims for judicial review challenging the government’s proposal to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their asylum claims determined there.

In R (on the application of AAA & Others) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department (UNHCR intervening) [2022] EWHC 3220 (Admin), the Divisional Court (Lewis LJ and Swift J) concluded that it is lawful for the government to make arrangements for relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the UK. It concluded that on the evidence before the court, the government has made arrangements with the government of Rwanda which are intended to ensure that the asylum claims of people relocated to Rwanda are properly determined in Rwanda. In those circumstances, it held that the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda is consistent with the Refugee Convention and with the statutory and other legal obligations on the government, including the obligations imposed by the Human Rights Act 1998.

However, the Divisional Court held that the SSHD must consider properly the circumstances of each individual claimant and had not done so in the case of the eight individual claimants. For that reason, the decisions in those cases were set aside, and the cases referred back to the SSHD for her to consider them afresh.

The full judgment can be found here and a press summary here.

Sian Reeves, instructed by the Government Legal Department, acted for the SSHD at all stages of the litigation, including interlocutory appeals to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in relation to the refusal of interim relief.

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