A Rwanda deportation flight for asylum seekers has been given the go-ahead in the High Court. The flight due to leave next week had been challenged in the court.
The UNHCR – the UN refugee agency – expressed concerns about the asylum process, including discriminatory access to asylum, the court heard. As many as 130 people could be sent on a one-way ticket to the east African nation, with the first flight set to take off on Tuesday.
Legal action began today (Friday) against the controversial policy, with lawyers on behalf of two migrants, telling the High Court the system is “unsafe”.
Raza Husain QC, representing Public and Commercial Services union, told the High Court: “The system is not safe. It is not that it is not safe after July, it is just not safe,” reports MirrorOnline.
The High Court was told the policy to send people on a one-way ticket to the east African nation was unlawful because it was “irrational”. A senior Home Office source told MirrorOnline the department had long waited for such challenges and obstacles to their plans.
Earlier this week, Home Office workers have told of their frustrations with the legal policy, but senior officials have urged them to use “proper channels” to raise any issues they have with the scheme, it is understood. Officials who have issues with the scheme should consider how their colleagues feel scooping babies, and children out of Channel waters, after loved ones had made the dangerous crossings, an insider told the Mirror.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Swift rejected arguments that the agreement between the two countries, known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was “unenforceable”, along with other documents that made up the policy.
He said: “They are not legally binding but they are formal documents about arrangements for transfer and how they will be put into practice.”
He continued: “It is unlikely that persons transferred would be refused access to the system of asylum. After all, it is the very purpose of the MoU (for asylum claims to be processed) in Rwanda.”
Shortly after the judgment was concluded, Mr Justice Swift granted the claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading migration partnership.
“People will continue to try and prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute claims, but we will not be deterred in breaking the deadly people smuggling trade and ultimately saving lives.
“Rwanda is a safe country and has previously been recognised for providing a safe haven for refugees – we will continue preparations for the first flight to Rwanda, alongside the range of other measures intended to reduce small boat crossings.”
Sonya Sceats, chief executive of the charity Freedom From Torture, said: “We are disappointed that the court did not grant this injunction to ensure that nobody is sent to Rwanda before Boris Johnson’s cruel policy can be subjected to proper legal scrutiny. But the fight is far from over. Caring people across Britain are incensed that this Government wants to send people seeking safety halfway across the world and are taking action.
“The public have sent over 15,000 letters to airlines suspected of involvement in removals calling on them to rule themselves out, and protests are being planned up and down the country. We will use every available means to see that this neo-colonial ‘cash for humans’ scheme scrapped and ensure that the UK is a safe place for people fleeing war, torture and persecution.”