The Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, a coalition of over 60 organisations (including ECPAT UK), is appalled by, and entirely opposed to, the government’s plans to permanently remove people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda to have their claims processed, as well as live in Rwanda if their asylum claim is successful. We believe the Rwanda scheme to be inhumane and unlawful for many reasons but this short briefing focusses on the possible impact on children.

The government has stated that unaccompanied children, some of who may have been trafficked, are not included in removals to Rwanda as their asylum claim cannot be deemed inadmissible. Yet, if children are incorrectly assessed to be an adults, there are no safeguards in place for children who say they are children but are treated as adults by the Home Office. Incorrect age determinations by immigrations officials lead to children being held in immigration detention or sent to adult accommodation, and now with this policy they face removal to Rwanda with extreme consequences.

The Immigration Minister confirmed that any dispute to a young person’s age “must be concluded, of course, before someone is relocated to Rwanda”, however we are already seeing cases of children who have been detained as adults being issued with ‘notices of intent’ to remove them. It is crucial that those young people who have had their age assessed as over 18 are supported to obtain legal advice and are protected from inadmissibility procedures while they have an ongoing right to challenge the decision made on age.

CLICK HERE to access the joint briefing.