Asylum seekers from the UK will continue to be sent to Rwanda, according to Priti Patel, and plans to fly other asylum-seeking refugees to Rwanda have begun. The Home Secretary said, “We will not be deterred from doing the right thing.”
Following an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, the first of these flights was cancelled minutes before tak-eoff.
The Labour Party’s Yvette Cooper said the government knew there were “torture and trafficking victims” among those it planned to transport.
“Shambles” and “shameful” were the words used by the shadow home secretary.
Rwanda’s asylum plan, announced by the government in April, involves sending asylum seekers who cross the Channel to the UK on a one-way flight to Rwanda to claim asylum. The scheme is intended to discourage others from traveling across the Channel
The government plans to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda on a one-way ticket, but the first flight was cancelled minutes before take-off after an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.
Two asylum seekers who were expected to board the flight were held in separate vans at the airport, each with three guards, they told a human rights lawyer.
Home Secretary Ms Patel defended the policy and said the court ruling was “disappointing and surprising”. She added that the government was reforming its systems to make them “firm” and “fair”.
The ECHR said one of the men facing deportation to Rwanda faced a “real risk of irreversible harm” if he remained on the flight, and the Supreme Court ordered the government to stop the flight. The remaining men appealed, and the removal orders were scrapped.
The European Court of Human Rights is an international court that sits in Strasbourg in France and protects civil and political rights. The UK remains part of the ECHR despite Brexit.
The British government is bound by ECHR rulings, including the injunction that prevented one of the deportees from boarding the flight to Rwanda.
The ECHR is not the ‘European Court of Justice’ a court that settles disputes between EU members.
Russia is one of the only countries to have left the ECHR and withdrawn from it’s jurisdiction following its invasion of Ukraine, Greece temporarily left following a military coup, while Belarus is not part of its signatories.
Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, who represented the lead case before the ECHR on Rwanda, said “One of the things that makes Britain great… is that we will abide by international courts and international law.”
The government said 444 migrants tried to cross the English Channel in small boats on Tuesday, the highest number in a single day for two months.
In the Commons, Labour denounced the government’s policy to pass asylum decisions to Rwanda, and said it was a “short-term stunt”. A human rights lawyer said the government had a number of choices, including asking the court to lift the measures or fighting the judicial review.
“How shameful does that make us look around the world?” Yvonne Cooper, the opposition Shadow Home Secretary responding to the Government’s plans in deporting asylum seeking migrants.
Frances Swaine, representing a man facing deportation to Rwanda, said she understood people’s frustration but hoped they wouldn’t do anything illegal.