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.
on 27th April 2022
pledged of £90,000 stretch target from 3188 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: Dec. 19, 2023

We will keep fighting!

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent finding that the Rwanda scheme is unlawful, this government is still trying to pursue the policy. The government has signed a new treaty with Rwanda and is no…

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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

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

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Update 8

Freedom from Torture

Dec. 19, 2023

We will keep fighting!

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent finding that the Rwanda scheme is unlawful, this government is still trying to pursue the policy. The government has signed a new treaty with Rwanda and is now pushing emergency legislation through Parliament that says Rwanda is safe.  

We will keep fighting against this cruel scheme.  

As we’ve been calling for all along, this ‘cash for humans’ deal should have been abandoned long ago. And we’re not the only ones who believe this: it’s been condemned by the UN, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and so many more. Caring people up and down the country don’t agree with this scheme and know that it is morally wrong. We should be treating people with decency and giving them a fair hearing rather than sending them thousands of miles away and shirking our protection responsibilities. 

We will be working hard to lobby MPs and Peers as this new Bill progresses through Parliament. We are urging them to give the Bill the boot! It is not only contrary to the rule of law but it places torture survivors and refugees at risk.  Already over 90 organisations representing those with lived experience of persecution, refugees support services, children, human rights, faith voices, LGBTQI communities, and racial justice movements, have signed up to a joint parliamentary briefing by Liberty, Justice and Freedom from Torture. Meanwhile, the Together with Refugees coalition is mobilising the membership of over 600 national and grassroots organisations to call on their supporters across the UK to advocate for a fairer and more compassionate asylum system through the ‘Fair begins here’ campaign.  

If this Bill passes, Freedom from Torture will – if appropriate - draw on our expertise once again to demonstrate to the Courts the risk the Rwanda removals policy presents for survivors of torture seeking sanctuary in the UK.  

Update 7

Freedom from Torture

Nov. 15, 2023

A huge victory for compassion

Today is a victory for human rights and compassion!

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal and ruled that this Government's plan to send refugees to Rwanda is unlawful.

We are delighted, and relieved, that the Supreme Court has affirmed what we already knew: this Government's 'cash for humans' deal with Rwanda is not only cruel and deeply immoral, but it also flies in the face of the laws of this country.

This is a huge victory for the millions of caring and compassionate people across the UK who stand for a fairer and more compassionate asylum system.

This final legal hurdle was won by six brave and resilient refugees who were able to take the fight this far. But this victory would not have been possible without all of us, working together to stop the flights in every way that we can. 

Now we can celebrate – the flights will not take off

We have felt the relief from survivors of torture in our therapy rooms today and we hope that today's decision marks a positive step forward for our compassionate movement.

But, despite clear evidence that Rwanda is unsafe for refugees, this Government is continuing to push its cruel policies which have led to an enormous asylum backlog that is now preventing thousands of torture survivors from rebuilding their lives.

It is important that we celebrate victories like today and see them as motivation to continue our fight for an asylum system that treats people with humanity, dignity and compassion.

Thank you for standing with us.

In solidarity,

Digital Campaigns Manager

Update 6

Freedom from Torture

June 29, 2023

BREAKING: Rwanda plan ruled 'unlawful'

Today we can celebrate a HUGE WIN for human rights and compassion!

The Court of Appeal has just ruled that the Government’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda is unlawful!

This is a victory for reason and compassion.

Freedom from Torture is delighted that the appeal verdict has affirmed what the caring people of this country already knew: the UK Government’s ‘cash for humans’ deal with Rwanda is not only deeply immoral, it flies in the face of the laws of this country.

As the Government makes plans for its next steps, with the possibility of taking the case to the Supreme Court, we will continue to campaign for a UK that welcomes refugees and supports survivors of torture in their healing journey

Freedom from Torture provided evidence and expertise to the Court demonstrating that survivors of torture will struggle to disclose their harrowing experiences in a process that moves at breakneck speed – and with few safeguards to ensure they can challenge their removal. 

Thank you for backing us in standing against the cruel Rwanda scheme.

Update 5

Freedom from Torture

April 21, 2023

Breaking: We’re back in court

We heard in mid April that the Court of Appeal recognises our expertise and will give us a critical opportunity to help it understand the risk for torture survivors of the government’s Rwanda plan.

Thanks to your donations covering our costs, we’re back in court, where we’ll have another chance to set out problems with the government’s cruel Rwanda scheme. 

As the government attempts to revive this cruel and inhumane scheme over and over, we’ve stood together at the forefront of campaigns, urging the government to change direction. And now, we have a chance to intervene in the case to help the Court understand the risks for survivors of torture. 

Here’s what we’re saying in court:

We know from our decades of clinical expertise, that survivors can take months and even years to be able to speak about their traumatic experiences, even in a place of safety. For many, the time that’s needed simply isn’t there in this exceptionally hostile and fast-paced scheme.

Instead of the safety and security needed for painful disclosures and medical assessment, survivors of torture face being locked up and sped onto planes for expulsion from the UK.

We want a workable system that puts humanity and compassion at the heart of how we treat people seeking asylum.

Thank you for your continued support as we try to stop this cruel ‘cash for humans’ scheme.

Update 4

Freedom from Torture

Dec. 19, 2022

Update: Rwanda plan ruled lawful by High Court

Today the High Court upheld the Government’s controversial scheme to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda if they have arrived in Britain via ‘irregular routes’.

We are deeply concerned by today’s ruling which will endanger survivors of torture and other refugees and deny them the safety and security they need to move on with their lives. 

Survivors of torture seeking to reach Britain, often because of family ties or other social links, are forced to take dangerous journeys because safe routes for them simply do not exist.

Britain should be helping these survivors to rebuild their lives in safety – but this Rwanda scheme would place them in danger all over again.

Every day in Freedom from Torture’s therapy rooms, survivors confide in our clinicians their fears about how this scheme will cause harm to people who have suffered like them.

Freedom from Torture was able to provide witness evidence to the High Court about how this scheme would impact on survivors of torture. Our evidence showed how the accelerated process will lead to survivors falling through the cracks and being selected for removal to Rwanda if the cruel plan is implemented.

We’re deeply disappointed with today’s decision but will not give up. Our movement will continue to grow as more and more people come together to create a UK that welcomes people fleeing torture, war and persecution.  

It has been heartening to see so many individuals and organisations coming together to support this movement.  From organisations leading the legal challenges to letters to MPs to petitions and activists putting pressure on airlines to rule themselves out from the flights, thousands of people have come together to call for an end to this cruel scheme.   

There is likely to be a long legal fight ahead and we will update this page with details on how Freedom from Torture will support it.

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


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


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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