Several asylum seekers selected by the government for transfer to Rwanda have been identified as potential trafficking victims.
High Court judges have several individual legal challenges against the Home Office, by people arguing that their removal from the UK would be unlawful, until the assessment process is complete.
They have received “reasonable grounds” decisions from the National Referral Mechanism, which is the government’s own official framework for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
But the High Court heard that the asylum seekers were not flagged to the scheme until after they were detained by the Home Office and served with legal notices saying they would be sent to Rwanda.
Giving legal directions ahead of a full judicial review of the policy, which will start on 5 September, Lord Justice Lewis said a “number of claimants” had been referred to the NRM.
He said a decision had been taken that there were reasonable grounds that they had been subjected to trafficking, and they would not be removed to Rwanda before a final decision is taken.
“If they are found to be victims of trafficking, they might be granted discretionary leave by the home secretary,” the judge added.
Lord Justice Lewis said the legal challenges by those claimants would be stayed until a final decision is made by the NRM.
He added that the High Court would also delay its consideration of a series of unlawful detention claims by people selected for removal to Rwanda, as “all those detained have been released on bail” and the only matter outstanding is how much money the Home Office will pay them in damages.