The first flight to take migrants arriving illegally in Britain to Rwanda can go ahead next week, the High Court in London ruled, after a judge dismissed campaigners’ attempts to win an injunction to stop it.
Charities and a trade union had launched a challenge against the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to the East African nation, saying it was unsafe, but the court said next Tuesday’s first planned flight could take place.
The claimants 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 complied with The European Convention on Human Rights.
But Justice Swift rejected the campaigner’s urgent injunction at London’s Royal Courts of Justice on Friday, saying on the “balance of convenience” there was a “material public interest” in allowing the flights to go ahead while the judicial review was ongoing.
Both Patel and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the court’s decision on Friday. “We cannot allow people traffickers to put lives at risk and our world leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals,” Johnson said on Twitter.
During Friday’s hearing, Raza Hussain, the lawyer acting for Care4Calais, Detention Action, and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents civil servants in Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry), said the scheme was unsafe and irrational.
Hussain said the government had made “misleading and inaccurate” claims that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had given it the green light, and that it was acting on false assurances about Rwanda’s ability to offer protection to asylum seekers and process their claims.
Government lawyer Mathew Gullick said the criticisms and concerns were backward-looking and did not reflect how the migrants would be treated. There was an “important public interest” in deterring illegal immigration, he said.
Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees made the crossing from mainland Europe to Britain. The first set of asylum seekers are set to fly to Rwanda on June 14th.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PUK MEDIA