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Rwanda asylum policy passages must be revealed, judge rules | Immigration and asylum

A judge has ruled that the government must reveal the majority of passages in internal documents relating to a controversial policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, made an application to the high court asking for public interest immunity to be granted to withhold 10 passages of two internal documents from disclosure that she said could damage international relations and breach national security if they were publicly revealed.

Lord Justice Lewis has refused to grant public interest immunity on six of the 10 extracts but granted it in the remaining four. The ruling that the majority of the extracts can be disclosed is likely to be a blow to the government.

The judge ruled that the passages must be disclosed to claimants before a high court hearing on 5 September to determine whether or not the policy of sending some asylum seekers who arrive in the UK to Rwanda was lawful.

He also ruled that some other passages could remain confidential and should not be disclosed.

During the application hearing, the court heard that a Foreign Office official raised concerns about plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, citing state surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture and killings by the country’s government, the high court has heard.

The Guardian, the BBC and the Times made submissions to the court urging disclosure of these 10 passages, arguing that this was in the public interest.

Parties challenging the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy – the PCS union, Care4Calais, Detention Action and some asylum seekers – say the passages should be made public.

Christopher Knight, representing some of the claimants, cited one document from a Foreign Office official that states: “There are state control, security, surveillance structures from the national level down to [households]. Political opposition is not tolerated and arbitrary detention, torture and even killings are accepted methods of enforcing control too.”

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