By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A London High Court on Wednesday ruled that the judicial review into the legality of the British government’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda will start on September 5.
Several asylum seekers, along with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are challenging the plan to provide one-way tickets to the east African country.
The full judicial review of the policy at the High Court had been due to begin on Tuesday, but some of the groups bringing the case asked for a delay earlier this month to allow them to prepare.
In a judgment on Wednesday, Lord Justice Lewis said the main hearing will go ahead from September 5 for five days, with a second hearing in the claim brought by Asylum Aid taking place in October.
Lord Justice Lewis, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said: “We accept that there is a strong public interest in hearing this claim as soon as reasonably possible.
“The challenge is to arrangements adopted by the Government to give effect to a policy which it regards as in the public interest and which it considers may impact on the ability and willingness of persons to risk dangerous journeys by lorry or small boats across the English Channel.
“We are satisfied after careful consideration that the timetable that we have settled on will ensure all claimants can present their claims fairly.”
Lord Justice Lewis said both judgments are expected to be given at the same time.
He added: “We stress that we have not yet considered any evidence, or heard any argument, about the details of those claims.
“We are only dealing at this stage with procedural matters. This judgment does not, therefore, express any view on whether the arrangements are lawful or unlawful.”
The judge said two of the individual claimants, allegedly victims of trafficking, will have their cases heard after the main case, and other individual claims could be adjourned based on Home Office decisions in their asylum cases.
At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, the court was told that recently provided documents showed that Rwanda had initially been excluded from the shortlist of potential countries “on human rights grounds”.
The documents provided earlier this month included several memos and internal communications from the Home Office and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Judges were told that in a note from March 2021, Foreign Office officials told then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab that if Rwanda was selected for the deportation policy “we would need to be prepared to constrain UK positions on Rwanda’s human rights record, and to absorb resulting criticism from UK Parliament and NGOs”.