On 14th April 2022, the UK government announced that they have an agreement with the Republic of Rwanda, whereby asylum seekers will be sent to the Rwanda for processing. The UK published the Memorandum of Understanding highlighting the agreement. This has come to be better known as the “Rwanda Plan” or “Rwanda Policy”.


This decision has been a cause for huge controversy and outrage. Many were eagerly awaiting the decision in AAA v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) on 19th December 2023, where the Court made a judgement as to whether expulsion of asylum seekers to Rwanda to process their asylum claims was deemed lawful.


This case concerned the legality of the removal of 11 claimants. During the hearing a large number of grounds and arguments were presented before the court against the government plans to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda.




The court did not agree and found that Rwanda was a sufficiently safe country and the inadmissibility and removal notification process undertaken by the Home Office in identifying and removing asylum seekers to Rwanda was found to be sufficiently fair.


The court held the following in relation to some of the arguments presented by the claimants:

  • the Home Secretary had undertaken sufficient enquiries to assure herself that Rwanda would be a safe country
  • there was insufficient evidence to show that Rwanda did not have a procedurally safe asylum system
  • the legal power used to certify the claimants’ asylum claims could be used to expel asylum seekers to Rwanda
  • there is no legal obligation on the Secretary of State to issue more detailed guidance to explain which characteristics are likely to make a removal to Rwanda inappropriate under the Home Office policy
  • expulsion of asylum seekers from the UK to a safe country cannot be a ‘penalty’, which would be contrary to the Refugee Convention, even if used as a deterrent for other asylum claimants


The above is a summary of the court’s judgement on some of the many grounds presented.


This above means that when a person claims asylum, the Home Office will register an asylum claim, consider admissibility, make an inadmissibility decision obtain consent from the Rwandan authorities and then issue a removal decision and directions.


However, the Court did also set aside decision relating to eight out of the eleven claimants, stating that the Home Secretary had not properly considered their personal circumstances such as subjective fears of harm or psychological barriers.


Our comments


The findings in AAA v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) that Rwanda is a safe country, and that the admissibility process is procedurally fair will have a huge impact on asylum seekers in the future, unless those findings are successfully challenged on appeal or on the basis of fresh evidence. At this stage, it looks as though flights won’t be able to take off straight away, with further appeals against the decision  by the High Court expected in the near future.


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