Christopher Knight and Robin Hopkins in Rwanda Deportation Judgment


The Divisional Court has handed down an important judgment concerning the government’s proposal to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda in R (AAA & ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (UNHCR intervening) [2022] EWHC 3230 (Admin).

This judgment concerns claims for judicial review brought by several individuals and organisations who challenge the decisions of the Home Secretary that asylum claims made in the United Kingdom should not be decided here but, instead, the persons who made the claim should be relocated to Rwanda and their asylum claims determined in that country in accordance with arrangements made between the governments of the United Kingdom and Rwanda. The individuals who are claimants travelled in small boats from France to England and claimed asylum on their arrival in the United Kingdom. They contended that the arrangements made by the Home Secretary to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda were unlawful. They also contended that the Home Secretary did not consider their circumstances properly.

The Court concluded that it was 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 United Kingdom. On the evidence before the Court, the government had made arrangements with the government of Rwanda which were intended to ensure that the asylum claims of people relocated to Rwanda were properly determined in Rwanda. In those circumstances, the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda was 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. The government had also acted consistently with its data protection obligations in the arrangements with the government of Rwanda.

However, the Home Secretary must consider properly the circumstances of each individual claimant. The Home Secretary must decide if there is anything about each person’s particular circumstances which means that his asylum claim should be determined in the United Kingdom or whether there are other reasons why he should not be relocated to Rwanda. The Home Secretary had not properly considered the circumstances of the eight individual claimants before the Court. For that reason, the decisions in those cases are to be set aside and their cases will be referred back to the Home Secretary for her to consider afresh.

The Court’s judgment can be read in full here.

Christopher Knight, instructed by Duncan Lewis, acted for the lead Claimants, including AAA (Syria), AHA (Syria), AT (Iran), the Public and Commercial Services Union, Detention Action, Care4Calais, AAM (Syria), NSK (Iraq). 

Robin Hopkins, instructed by the Government Legal Department, acted for the Home Secretary in the SAA (Sudan) clam.