Last-Gasp Challenge Fails Against UK’s Rwanda Asylum Plan
UK campaigners on Monday failed in a last-gasp bid to stop the government’s first flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda, as protests mounted against the policy.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected a challenge to a High Court ruling last Friday that the deportations could go ahead.
Judges Rabinder Singh, Ingrid Simler and Jeremy Stuart-Smith dismissed claims the lower court judge should have waited to make a decision until a full hearing on the legality of the policy next month.
“He weighed all the factors and reached a conclusion which he was reasonably entitled to reach on the material before him,” Singh said.
“This court cannot therefore interfere with that conclusion.”
The government has vowed to push ahead with the removal of the migrants on a chartered flight on Tuesday from an undisclosed airport.
Thirty-one migrants had been due to be sent but one of the claimants, the NGO Care4Calais, tweeted that 21 of them had now had their tickets cancelled.
Other claimants include the Public and Commercial Services union, whose members will have to implement the removals and immigration support group Detention Action.
PCS chief Mark Serwotka said on Sunday it would be “an appalling situation” if Tuesday’s removals were subsequently found to be illegal at the full hearing.
Home Secretary Priti Patel should wait for the July hearing if she “had any respect, not just for the desperate people who come to this country, but for the workers she employs”, Serwotka told Sky News.
“We’re absolutely confident that in July, in line with what the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) said very graphically in court, we believe these proposals will be found to be unlawful.”
Protesters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday and further demonstrations were expected outside the Home Office.
In Geneva, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi called the UK government policy “all wrong” and said it should not be “exporting its responsibility to another country”.
‘Hate speech and discrimination’
Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson insist the policy is needed to stop a flood of all-too-often deadly migrant crossings of the Channel from France.
“It’s very important that the criminal gangs who are putting people’s lives at risk in the Channel understand that their business model is going to be broken,” Johnson told LBC radio on Monday.
“They’re selling people falsely, luring them into something that is extremely risky and criminal.”
Under the agreement with Kigali, anyone landing in the UK illegally is liable to be given a one-way ticket for processing and resettlement in Rwanda.
The government says that the plan will target gangsters who charge would-be migrants thousands of dollars to undertake the perilous crossing for a new life in Britain.
Genuine asylum claimants should be content to stay in France, it says.
And contradicting the UNHCR, it insists that Rwanda is a safe destination with the capacity to absorb possibly tens of thousands of UK-bound claimants in future.
For now, the deportations will proceed “on a gradual basis”, Doris Uwicyeza, chief technical adviser to Rwanda’s justice ministry, told LBC radio.
Uwicyeza pushed back at criticism over the human rights record of President Paul Kagame’s government — which is set this month to host a Commonwealth summit attended by Prince Charles and Johnson.
Rwanda’s 1994 genocide made it particularly attentive to “protecting anybody from hate speech and discrimination”, including gay people, she said.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Britain, Johnston Busingye, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Rwanda would be a “safe haven” for migrants.
But British critics are unconvinced.
They include Prince Charles who dubbed the plan “appalling”, according to The Times newspaper on Saturday.
The reported comment prompted unnamed cabinet ministers to tell Queen Elizabeth II’s heir to stay out of politics.
International NGO Human Rights Watch issued a public letter warning that “to this day, serious human rights abuses continue to occur in Rwanda, including repression of free speech, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture”.