A HIGH Court challenge against the Government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is set to begin.

Several asylum seekers, as well as the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, Care4Calais and Detention Action have brought a case against the Home Office which begins on Monday.

They claim the policy, which saw the UK Government invest £120 million in the Central African state in exchange for Britain offloading asylum seekers arriving in the country by small boats or in the back of lorries, is illegal and risks the human rights of those sent there.

Refugees sent to Rwanda face the threat of torture and inhumane treatment, the claimants against the Home Office have argued, citing internal memos within the Government which highlighted human rights abuses in the country.

They described the Home Office calling Rwanda a safe country as “irrational”, a claim the department continues to defend.

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The PCS Union, which represents Home Office workers, is leading the case against the Government and said the Rwanda policy “is not only immoral and unlawful…it's unworkable too”.

Charities representing those facing being sent to Rwanda have said those who have been threatened with deportation have attempted suicide because they so deeply fear being sent to the country.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We want the Home Office to abandon its hostile approach to refugees and to work with us to build a humane system that allows our members the time, space and resources to do their jobs properly.”

Clare Moseley, the founder of Care4Calais will attend a protest outside the High Court in London on Monday, the charity has said.

She added: “When the Government attempted the flight in June, we supported 121 people who had been issued Rwanda notices. We saw harrowing suicide attempts, self-harm and over 20 people on hunger strike. 

“We spoke to mothers, wives and children who begged us to help their loved ones.

“We supported people who had escaped from bloody conflicts and survived torture only to be detained and told the terrifying news that they would be deported halfway across the world.

“It is sickening to contemplate this horror happening once more. Given the more effective and humane options available, is this really what we as a compassionate country want to do?”

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Bella Sankey, Director of Detention Action, said: “The British courts have a fine tradition of guaranteeing fundamental rights and holding the executive to account when it overreaches.

“We believe that the Government’s policy of expelling traumatised torture and trafficking survivors to an autocratic country thousands of miles away is unlawful, immoral and counterproductive.

“We are going to court today to test the lawfulness of the policy on behalf of our clients and hundreds of others liable to forced expulsion.”

The first flight to Rwanda was due to take off on July 14 but was eventually grounded after an eleventh-hour intervention from European human rights judges.

The Home Office will be defending the claims, with Home Secretary Priti Patel saying legal challenges were "expected" before the policy was introduced. 

She added: "Those behind these legal challenges have regrettably delayed the implementation of [the Rwanda policy] and have this far only succeeded in giving succour to the people smuggling gangs over the summer, resulting in more people boarding flimsy craft and putting their lives at risk in the Channel."

Lord Justice Lewis, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, previously said the hearing in London will start on Monday and last for five days, with a second hearing in the claim brought by the group Asylum Aid taking place in October.

Both decisions are expected to be given in writing at the same time.

During a previous hearing, the court was told Rwanda had initially been excluded from the shortlist of potential countries “on human rights grounds”.

Judges heard that in an internal 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”.

In another memo, Foreign Office officials said they had advised Downing Street against engagement with several countries, including Rwanda, the court was told in written arguments.

The court also heard the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda previously indicated the east African country should not be used as an option for the policy, telling the Government it “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”.

Another official memo in April this year said the “fraud risk is very high” and there is “limited evidence about whether these proposals will be a sufficient deterrent for those seeking to enter the UK illegally”, judges were told.

The hearing before Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift is due to start at 10.30am on Monday.