In April 2022, the UK government announced their intention to introduce a policy whereby people seeking asylum who enter the country by ‘irregular’ means (for example by small boat) would be deported to Rwanda. This is the so-called Rwanda Scheme.

Under the Rwanda plan individuals would be deported regardless of the merit of their asylum claim, and given no means to ever return to claim asylum in the UK. This makes the policy even more draconian than other ‘off-shoring’ policies, i.e. the Australian system.

In November 2023 the Supreme Court ruled the scheme to be unlawful on the grounds that certain human rights of asylum seekers could not be guaranteed. Unfortunately, rather than abandon the cruel and unworkable scheme, the Government passed a bill legally declaring Rwanda safe. Thankfully the policy has been delayed and now with the election there is a chance it will be scrapped completely.


If implemented the Rwanda plan would have a devastating impact. For one it reneges on the UK’s commitments under international law, and is a worrying erosion of human rights. In January 2024 the Moderator of the Church of Scotland wrote to Scottish MPs urging them to resist passing the bill, saying “This bill threatens to destroy that reputation, reducing our ability to speak with any credibility on injustices and human rights abuses across the world. It also sets a worrying precedent that fundamental human rights can be eroded and denied to some.”

The Rwanda Scheme would be an an abandonment of our country’s obligation to provide shelter and sanctuary for people who need it. If every century followed the UK’s example then the entire international system of refugee protection would collapse.

While the Rwanda Plan has not been implemented, and there may never be flights to Rwanda, it’s impact has already been felt. Since the passing of the Safety of Rwanda Act 2024, thousands of people seeking asylum have been living in fear of deportation. This has had a disastrous impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. There have been reported cases of people turning up at routine check in appointment at the Home Office in Glasgow, only to be detained and sent to be held in England, far from their lawyers.

What can we do?

SFAR has assisted the Church of Scotland in opposing the Rwanda plan and calling for a fair and dignified asylum system.

For advice on campaigning as a faith group see our Call for change page.