Home Office Rwanda deportation flight gets green light in Supreme Court ruling

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s highly controversial plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda next week has been given the go-ahead, despite warnings from the UN refugee agency that the plan is illegal.

A Supreme Court judge rejected protesters’ request to ban the Interior Ministry’s first deportation flight to Rwanda, which was scheduled to depart on Tuesday with 31 migrants on board.

Despite outrage from human rights groups and opposition MPs, up to 130 people have been informed that they could be sent to the Central African nation for asylum “processing” as the interior ministry plans to schedule more flights this year. .

Ms Patel welcomed Friday’s court ruling and insisted she “would not be deterred” by further efforts to “prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute claims” by activists.

“Rwanda is a safe country,” the interior minister said. “We will continue preparations for the first flight to Rwanda, in addition to the series of other measures aimed at reducing small boat crossings.”

Campaign groups said they were “disappointed” and “deeply concerned” by the verdict, but pledged to continue fighting Rwanda’s plan. The decision will not prevent individual refugees from filing their own legal objections to deportation.

Court documents revealed that the Interior Ministry canceled the deportations to Rwanda for five migrants who appealed. Lawyers for nearly 100 migrants have filed legal objections asking to remain in the UK, with the rest expected to follow.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys on behalf of Care4Calais and Detention Action, and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who are challenging the policy’s legal principle.

Judge Jonathan Swift rejected the offer to block the flight, saying some of the risks to the deported asylum seekers were small and “in the realm of speculation”. Justice Swift said there was a “material public interest” in allowing the Home Secretary to implement immigration decisions.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, commented: “Today was just the beginning of this legal challenge. We believe that the next stage of legal proceedings can put an end to this most barbaric plan.”

Justice Swift has given the groups permission to appeal Friday’s ruling, suggesting the appeals court judges would hear the case Monday. The judge also said a full judicial hearing will be held before the end of July to decide on the overall legality of the settlement.

Detention Action said: “Our appeal will be heard on Monday and our larger lawsuit against this policy will be heard in the coming weeks. Thanks to everyone who is with us.”

Priti Patel and Rwandan minister Vincent Biruta sign partnership

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Under the government scheme, anyone who has arrived in Britain since January 1 via routes deemed illegal can be relocated to Rwanda. Government lawyer Mathew Gullick said there was an “important public interest” in curbing illegal immigration.

However, the court was told that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had a number of concerns about the asylum process in Rwanda, including discrimination against LGBT+ people and a lack of legal representation.

The UNHCR also told the Supreme Court that the Interior Ministry had falsely claimed that its plan for Rwanda had been approved by the UN Refugee Agency. Laura Dubinsky, QC, who represents the agency, said there were “inaccuracies” in the way the agency’s positions were described.

She said the UNHCR had informed the interior minister that it was illegal, adding that the agency remained concerned about the risk of “serious, irreparable harm” to refugees sent to Rwanda.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the UN agency’s criticism of the Rwanda plan was “scathing”, adding that it was a “warning of a lack of proper treatment of refugees in Rwanda”.

Sir Keir Starmer called the plan for Rwanda a “chaotic distraction” on Friday and said Labor would instead “form a good plan with the French authorities” to crack down on people smuggling.

Boris Johnson said he welcomed the news from the Supreme Court, tweeting, “We cannot allow traffickers to endanger lives and our industry-leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals.”

Enver Soloman, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the government’s plans to go ahead with the plans despite these legal challenges were “extremely concerning”.

He said: “Government claims that this deal would act as a deterrent to ending the smugglers’ model have already been refuted with the number of people traveling across the canal nearly doubling since its announcement last year.”

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