Fight the government's plan to send refugees to Rwanda

by Freedom from Torture

Fight the government's plan to send refugees to Rwanda

by Freedom from Torture
Freedom from Torture
Case Owner
Freedom from Torture is a UK registered charity who supports torture survivors to recover and rebuild their lives in the UK, and campaigns alongside them for change.
Funded
on 27th April 2022
£87,400
pledged of £90,000 stretch target from 3,188 pledges
Freedom from Torture
Case Owner
Freedom from Torture is a UK registered charity who supports torture survivors to recover and rebuild their lives in the UK, and campaigns alongside them for change.

Latest: Sept. 9, 2022

Rwanda court case update

UPDATE: The government’s Rwanda plan is on trial in the courts right now. And the new PM, Liz Truss, is waiting to see if she can restart the flights. 

The case is led by our friends Care4C…

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Treating people who are seeking safety from torture and war as if they’re a
problem to be got rid of is not only deeply immoral, but likely unlawful.
Despite outcry from experts and people all over the UK, we believe that this
government will send torture survivors to Rwanda as part of this scheme, and
that this will raise serious human rights concerns, even if they introduce
safeguards.

Freedom from Torture has instructed Leigh Day. Funds raised will support
Freedom from Torture's legal costs and own organisational costs for
delivering this action.


Funds raised in excess of these costs will be allocated according to Crowd
Justice’s Unused Funds policy and will support Freedom from Torture’s
charitable activities. As part of its work in support of survivors of torture,
Freedom from Torture engages regularly with the government in relation to
law and policy affecting torture survivors as asylum-seekers fleeing breaches
of fundamental rights. Most recently, this has included extensive engagement
with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice during the consultation on
the New Plan for Immigration, including meeting with officials, participating in
focus groups, and providing written submissions.


Freedom from Torture has worked with or on behalf of torture survivors who
have fled persecution and arrived in the UK to claim asylum. Freedom from
Torture regularly consults with people with lived experiences of torture in
order to understand the likely impact of policies such as these, and to work
with them to advocate for improvements. Freedom from Torture was one of
the claimants in the recent judicial review proceedings challenging the
Secretary of State’s “Pushback Policy”, which was withdrawn as a
consequence.

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Update 3

Freedom from Torture

Sept. 9, 2022

Rwanda court case update

UPDATE: The government’s Rwanda plan is on trial in the courts right now. And the new PM, Liz Truss, is waiting to see if she can restart the flights. 

The case is led by our friends Care4Calais, Detention Action and the PCS Union, and we at Freedom from Torture are providing a witness statement as evidence about the impact of the Rwanda scheme on torture survivors. This is a great opportunity to end this cash-for-humans deal that would shirk our country’s responsibility to people that desperately need safety. 

Drawing on our more than 30+ years of experience working with survivors and the asylum system, the judge will hear us argue that those who’ve experienced torture will inevitably fall through the cracks and be selected for removal to Rwanda if this cruel plan went ahead. Our evidence shows how barriers to people disclosing traumatic experiences like torture mean torture survivors will be affected whatever the government claim. 

Afterall, there’s at least 14 torture survivors who’ve been told they will be sent to Rwanda already, and we know survivors were due to be on the first removal flight before it was blocked too. It’s your donations that helps us provide expert evidence like this and stand with torture survivors — thank you again for your generosity. 

Winning this case is going to be hard. The government’s lawyers will throw everything they have at trying to keep this scheme alive. But if we lose this time, there’s still hope. Any result can be appealed. If that happens, we’ll need to be ready to do even more legal work to stand alongside torture survivors and everyone who would be affected by this inhumane policy. And that’s still just this first legal case. In October, the organisation Asylum Aid will be bringing another challenge to the government which wouldn’t just impact the Rwanda scheme, but any others like it. And again, we’ll be ready to play a role in winning that case if needed, thanks to you. 

Your support gives us the foundation to be able to do whatever we can as part of the legal process to stop this assault on people seeking safety. It’s amazing to see so many people come together to stand united against this cruel plan. If Liz Truss does try to restart flights, we’ll also step up our campaigning together against the airlines responsible to stop her in her tracks. 

Together, we can say loud and clear: refugees are welcome. Thanks for being involved.

Sonya Sceats

CEO

Update 2

Freedom from Torture

July 16, 2022

Update: Rwanda flights on hold

Thank you to all who have supported our legal fund to stop the government’s cruel Rwanda plan. From thousands chipping in, to hundreds protesting and so many of you taking on the airline responsible online - it’s been incredible to see the strength of people power over the last few months. Now we wanted to update you on what happens next.

Incredible asylum lawyers made sure the first flight to Rwanda was stopped - as public pressure grew against the plan. Day by day it becomes more and more obvious to politicians how unpopular this plan is. Now as the Conservative Party pick their next leader, the flights are on hold.

Here’s the good news - the court case against the Rwanda plan has just been delayed until September to give the claimants proper time to prepare their cases. That means no flights can happen until then.

Acting on the advice of our legal team, Freedom from Torture has not issued legal proceedings but we continue to support the other legal challenges, building on the groundwork we laid via our lawyer’s opinion on the Nationality & Borders Act as it was passing through Parliament and our pre-action letters forced the government to disclose important information about the scheme.

We took the unusual step of writing directly to the High Court to express our support for the injunction applications and now we are supplying witness evidence for the upcoming hearing based on our experience of providing legal and clinical support and medical evidence for survivors of torture.

Our evidence will be vital for this fight. We know from decades of working with torture survivors, who are among the most vulnerable asylum seekers, that it can take many years for someone who has experienced trauma to be able to tell their story. The Rwanda scheme gives very little opportunity for them to do so, meaning people who are so desperately in need of safety and recovery will be placed at risk of expulsion.

With our blessing, Leigh Day is now acting for Asylum Aid in their legal challenge against the scheme so we have instructed Freshfields (acting pro bono) and a new counsel team to help us to prepare our witness evidence and guide us on how else we can support the legal challenges from here.

A small portion of the funding covered costs for the pre-action stages, and the remainder of our legal fund, that you’ve so generously supported, is available to mobilise for the next phase in this fight following the hearing in September.

While there is a temporary reprieve on sending refugees to Rwanda, this fight is far from over. This government, including all of the contenders for the leadership, are intent on pushing ahead with this immoral ‘cash for humans’ scheme.

It’s up to all of us to come together to create a UK that welcomes people fleeing torture, war and persecution.

Thank you once again for your generosity. We’ll keep in touch every step of the way - and together, we can win a country which welcomes refugees.

Kind regards,

Sonya Sceats

CEO

Update 1

Freedom from Torture

June 16, 2022

UPDATE: The first flight

UPDATE: On 14th June, the first scheduled flight to take refugees to Rwanda was stopped from taking off.

Last week, Freedom from Torture took the unusual step of writing directly to the High Court to express our concerns about the scheme and our support for the general injunction applications. Those applications were unsuccessful.

But in the run up to the flight, asylum seekers due to be onboard individually took legal action so that one-by-one the number being flown dwindled. Then, at the last minute, thanks to the actions of other litigators, the European Court of Human Rights blocked the flight altogether.

In the last few weeks so many of us have come together to stop the government’s plans. You got involved in all different ways, from supporting legal cases, to protesting on the streets, and pressuring airlines with calls, emails and tweets. Thank you for being part of this huge movement. Tuesday night’s success shows that when people work together we can take on anything and win.

But the fight is far from over. While it’s great that no one was flown to Rwanda on Tuesday, the government is already planning the next flight.

That means we’re only at the start of what is going to be a long legal battle. So we’re so grateful to you and the thousands others who’ve supported our legal action fund. We’re currently strategising with our lawyers on our next steps, and we’ll let you know the plan as soon as possible.

"Across the UK, everyone from people protesting in the streets to Prince Charles have spoken out against this government’s plans. With torture survivors likely to be on these flights, it is crucial that we continue to fight this neocolonial ‘cash for humans’ policy.” - Kolbassia Haoussou, Director of Survivor Empowerment

Thanks so much again,

The Freedom from Torture team

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