UK flights to Rwanda: Judge allows first flight to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to move forward

The British government announced in April that it had done so agreed to a deal to send asylum seekers to the East African country, in a move it insists is aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from crossing the dangerous English Channel into England from Europe.

Human rights groups Care4Calais and Detention Action have put forward a challenge to block deportation flights, along with the Union of Public and Commercial Services (PCS), a union representing civil servants in the British Home Office, and some asylum seekers facing deportation to Rwanda. They claimed British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s policy was “unlawful on multiple grounds”, and he sought an injunction to prevent the plane from taking off.

Prosecutors also challenged Patel’s legal authority to carry out the removals, the rationality of her claim that Rwanda is generally a “safe third country” given its human rights record, the adequacy of malaria prevention in the country, and whether the policy complies with European standards. Human Rights Convention.

But Judge Swift dismissed the campaign’s urgent injunction at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday, saying there was a “material public interest” in allowing flights to proceed while the judicial review was being conducted.

Both Patel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the court’s decision on Friday. “We cannot allow human traffickers to put their lives at risk, and our world-leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals,” Johnson said on Twitter.

Rights groups vowed to continue the fight. Care4Calais said it obtained leave to appeal the ruling on Monday “because we are deeply concerned for the well-being of people who may be forcibly deported to Rwanda, a fate that could severely harm their mental health and future,” human rights group founder Claire Mosley said in a statement.

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“Today was just the beginning of this legal challenge. We believe that the next phase of legal proceedings may put an end to this completely barbaric plan,” she added.

The UN refugee agency and other international human rights groups have also opposed the plan, arguing that it will increase risks and cause refugees to seek alternative routes, increasing pressure on frontline states.

Two days before the Supreme Court’s decision, Deputy Director of Detention Procedure James Wilson said in a statement that Patel had “exceeded her authority” in her “desire to punish people seeking asylum by forcing them to board a flight to Rwanda”.

“By rushing into what we say is illegal policy, they are turning a blind eye to the many clear risks and human rights abuses that may be inflicted on those seeking asylum,” Wilson added.

“Dig to fight”

The Supreme Court’s decision came as Johnson came under increased scrutiny from members of Parliament for demonstrating the success of the policy.

Johnson told the Daily Mail he expected a lot of legal opposition to the policy, but said the government would “go out to fight”.

We are ready for that. We’ll dig in to fight – and we’ll make it work. “We have a huge flowchart of things we need to do to deal with Lefty’s attorney,” he said in an interview in May. He added that 50 people had already received notices warning them that they would face deportation to Rwanda.

The government said the plan to send people to Rwanda would initially cost 120 million pounds ($158 million), with funding to support asylum, accommodation and “integration” processes.

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The Ministry of the Interior announced on 1 June that people who had undertaken “dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys, including crossing the canal” were among those who had been issued notices of deportation to Rwanda. “While we know that attempts will now be made to scuttle the process and delay removal, I will not be deterred and will remain fully committed to delivering what the British public has come to expect,” Patel said in a statement.

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The plan also faces a second legal challenge from the charity Asylum Aid, which applied for an urgent injunction on Thursday to prevent any flights from departing.

Prior to Friday’s ruling, Moseley told CNN’s Care4Calais that the charity was working with more than 100 people who had received notices. Many fled persecution or conscription in their home countries in search of a better life in Britain, fearing being sent to Rwanda.

“A lot of them told me I’d rather die than send them to Rwanda,” Moseley said in an interview in Calais, France, where the charity provides assistance to refugees living in and around the city.

Many asylum seekers continue to travel to Calais, where the camp known as “The Jungle” attracted global media attention at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, before it was destroyed by authorities the following year.

Each year thousands of people risk a dangerous journey across the English Channel, a relatively narrow waterway between Britain and France, and one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

More than 10,000 people have crossed the canal in small, rickety boats so far this year, according to an analysis of government data by the Palestinian Authority News Agency. Last year, more than 28,000 people crossed.

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CNN’s Nada Bashir and Joseph Attaman contributed to this report from Calais.

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