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Deportation flights to Rwanda are set to continue after the appeal failed

A group of people believed to be migrants are taken aboard a Border Force vessel to Dover, Kent, following an incident involving a small boat in the English Channel. Picture date: Tuesday June 7, 2022. PA Photo. The number of migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the English Channel in small boats this year is expected to exceed 10,000. See PA story POLITICS Migrants. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Asylum seekers arriving on small boats are among those affected by the Interior Ministry’s new partnership with Rwanda (Image: PA)

A British judge has rejected a request to halt a flight scheduled to carry more than 30 asylum seekers on a one-way flight to Rwanda next week.

A legal challenge has been launched on behalf of a number of people who were told they would be expelled from the UK on Tuesday next week.

This comes as part of the Home Office’s new partnership with Rwanda, which will see people who arrive in Britain “illegally” relocated to the east African country.

The government says this will crack down on human trafficking gangs and discourage people from taking such dangerous routes.

But the system has been condemned by the UN, and human rights activists say criminalizing people seeking safety based on their mode of arrival betrays the principle of asylum.

Judge Jonathan Swift has denied a request for an injunction against the planned flight, but more challenges are expected in the future.

Up to 130 people had been notified they could be removed and 31 were due to board the first flight on Tuesday, the court heard.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 8: Protesters demonstrate outside the High Commission of Rwanda against the Home Office's plan to process, resettle and seek asylum people identified as illegal immigrants or asylum seekers on June 8, 2022 in London, United Kingdom Protesters are calling on the Rwandan government to drop the deal, officially known as the UK-Rwanda Partnership on Migration and Economic Development, as the first resettlement flight is scheduled for June 14. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Demonstrators demonstrate in front of the Rwanda High Commission (Image: Getty Images)

The lawyers of nearly 100 migrants had filed legal challenges asking to stay in the UK and the rest are expected to follow.

The first stage lawsuit was filed today by lawyers on behalf of two migrants along with the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents more than 80% of Border Force employees.

They also represented groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, which are challenging the policy on behalf of all concerned.

During the proceedings, it emerged that the Home Office had already scrapped plans to remove three people from the first flight, with two more expected.

Representing the challengers, Raza Husain QC told the court the “procedure is simply unsafe” and called for an evidence-based assessment of the policy, “no basis or hope to strive for”.

The lawyer later said the agreement between the two countries, known as the Memorandum of Understanding, was “unenforceable”.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 8: Protesters demonstrate outside the High Commission of Rwanda against the Home Office's plan to process, resettle and seek asylum people identified as illegal immigrants or asylum seekers on June 8, 2022 in London, United Kingdom Protesters are calling on the Rwandan government to drop the deal, officially known as the UK-Rwanda Partnership on Migration and Economic Development, as the first resettlement flight is scheduled for June 14. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Activists have urged Rwanda to pull out of its deal with Britain (Image: Getty Images)

“Nothing monitors it, there is no evidence of structural changes. The risks are just too high,” he added.

Mr Husain also told the court that claims by the Home Office that the UN refugee agency UNHCR gave the plans a “green light” were a “false claim”.

But Home Office lawyers said legal action should not be allowed to derail the plans and urged the court to deny the request.

They argued there was “a strong public interest in ensuring that these deportations go ahead as planned” and a “clear public interest in preventing dangerous travel and the activities of criminal smugglers”.

Previously, the department said it expected legal challenges but was “determined to make this new partnership a reality,” insisting the policy was “fully consistent with international and domestic law.”

Shortly after the conclusion of the ruling, Judge Swift granted the plaintiffs leave to appeal and suggested that the appeals court judges would hear the case on Monday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I welcome the Court’s decision in our favor and will now continue to work to advance our world-leading partnership on migration.

“People will continue to try to prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute demands, but we will not be deterred from disrupting the deadly human smuggling and ultimately saving lives.

“Rwanda is a safe country and has previously been recognized for providing a safe haven for refugees – we will continue preparations for the first flight to Rwanda, alongside a range of other measures aimed at reducing small boat crossings.”

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Home Secretary Priti Patel has welcomed the High Court ruling (Image: PA)

The chief executive of the charity Freedom From Torture, Sonya Sceats, said: “We are disappointed that the court did not issue this injunction to ensure that no one is sent to Rwanda before Boris Johnson’s cruel policies can be subject to proper legal scrutiny .

“But the fight is far from over. Caring people across the UK are outraged that this government wants to send people halfway across the world seeking safety and are taking action.

“The public has sent over 15,000 letters to airlines suspected of being involved in removals, urging them to self-exclude and protests are planned across the country.

“We will use all means available to ensure that this neo-colonial ‘money for the people’ scheme is ended and ensure that the UK is a safe place for people fleeing war, torture and persecution. “

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Appeal clearance has been granted so further legal challenges are expected in the near future (Image: Getty Images/REX)

Clare Moseley, Founder of Care4Calais, said: “We have been granted leave to appeal Monday as we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of people who may be forcibly returned to Rwanda, a fate that deeply affects their mental health and future could harm.

“As a result of today’s case, six refugees have been denied entry to Rwanda.

“This shows how important it is that nobody is deported until the legitimacy of the policy is fully verified. Some of the refugees do not yet have legal counsel.

“They run the risk of being deported by a policy that could ultimately turn out to be unlawful. Today was just the beginning of this legal challenge. We believe that the next phase of the trial will put an end to this utterly barbaric plan.

“There are other, more humane and effective ways to save lives and fight people smugglers. And as compassionate people, we have to ask ourselves, is this kind of unnecessary and cruel resolution really what we want to do?’

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/10/deportation-flights-to-rwanda-to-go-ahead-after-legal-challenge-fails-16807866/ Deportation flights to Rwanda are set to continue after the appeal failed

Justin Scacco

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