RCPsych responds to Supreme Court ruling against Government's Rwanda policy

Statement / comment
15 November 2023

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has welcomed the decision by the UK’s Supreme Court to rule against the Government’s planned policy of removing people seeking asylum to Rwanda.

The Illegal Migration Act allows the removal of those from the UK who arrive by illegal means to be detained indefinitely, then removed either to their own country or a ‘safe third country’ if this is not possible.

The agreement with Rwanda is the only agreement with a third country in place. Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal ruling that the proposed policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“People seeking asylum are likely to have experienced significant trauma before, during and after their migration. This puts them at increased risk of developing a severe mental illness. The College has consistently called for the Government to reconsider its treatment of people seeking asylum, and effectively safeguard them from further harm.

“Today’s judgment will come as a huge relief to all the vulnerable children and adults waiting for the outcome of their claim for asylum. The policy of deporting people to Rwanda would have been highly retraumatising for the people affected.

“While the College welcomes today’s judgment by the Supreme Court, we believe the Illegal Migration Act remains incompatible with the fundamental medical principle of doing no harm.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has ruled against the Rwanda policy, and hope that the Government now takes time to reflect on changes that can be made to the Illegal Immigration Act. People seeking asylum should receive access to the specialist support they need while they wait for their claim to be heard, and thereafter, as they try to rebuild their lives.”

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