Europe

Why Priti Patel’s Rwanda deportation plan faces another major obstacle

Theresa May grills Priti Patel on criteria of Rwanda policy

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The first flight of asylum seekers and refugees bound for Rwanda’s offshore processing facility is due to take off next week. But the Home Secretary’s policy, which was due to help cut down on migration to the UK, has encountered early roadblocks. Priti Patel is locked in a confrontation with aid groups, who have drafted lawyers to challenge the flight before it departs.

Earlier today, a high court hearing revealed that the Government cancelled removal directions for three people who had asked the court to prevent their deportations via the programme.

Following the hearing, another two will have their flights cancelled as well.

But a high court judge ruled that the Government’s planned deportation flight for next week could go ahead.

Bids by four other asylum seekers to secure interim relief were denied by Mr Justice Swift.

Lawyers argued the policy was unlawful and bid to halt the flight and any others following.

Mr Swift said there was “material public interest” in allowing the flight to go ahead.

While he allowed the flight next Tuesday, he also allowed the claimants to appeal the ruling.

Mr Swift suggested judges would hear the case on Monday, June 13.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents civil servants and border officers, said it would take the case to the court of appeals.

The Government will likely have to fight a series of future cases against the Home Secretary’s policy, which was announced on April 14 this year.

The Prime Minister and Ms Patel have touted the policy as a solution to illegal people smuggling across the English Channel.

Both Mr Johnson and the Home Secretary welcomed today’s outcome, stating the Government would not stop attempting to deport people to Rwanda.

Ms Patel said: “People will continue to try to 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 save 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.”

Lawyers have attacked several aspects of the plan, which the United Nations (UN) also condemned.

They have questioned Ms Patel’s right to order removals of this kind, claims that Rwanda is a “safe third country”, whether it complies with the Human Rights Act, and Rwanda’s malaria prevention provisions.

The Government was condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) during the trial this week.

The organisation submitted evidence late in the week underlining the plan’s legality and questioning letters sent by the Home Office that claimed it was “closely involved” with the Rwanda programme.

In the evidence, the UNHCR said the scheme failed to meet “legality and appropriateness” standards for transporting asylum-seekers between countries.

The agency added: “We are also concerned by statements made in the letters indicating that UNHCR has not expressed substantial concerns with regard to the shortcomings in the capacity of the Rwandan asylum system.”

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