Rwanda plan ruling sees UK set to defy European courts

Rwanda: Suella Braverman hits back at Labour criticism

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The Rwanda migrant scheme is set to put the British Government on a collision course with European courts as a UK ruling deeming the processing scheme lawful is at odds with legal experts on the continent. Several court challenges were brought against proposals to send migrants to Rwanda announced by then-home secretary Priti Patel in April, which she described as a “world-first agreement” with the East African nation to deter people from making the journey across the Channel to the UK.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was then grounded amid a series of objections against individual removals while the legality of the entire policy was also contested.

But at a hearing on Monday, senior judges rejected arguments that the plans to provide asylum seekers with one-way tickets to Rwanda were unlawful.

Lord Justice Lewis, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, dismissed the challenges against the policy as a whole, but ruled in favour of eight asylum seekers, finding the Government had acted wrongly in their individual cases.

Detention Action, Care4Calais, the PCS union and Asylum Aid – which sought the judicial reviews – all said they were disappointed with the ruling and are considering whether to appeal against the decision.

The case might reach the European Court of Human Rights as all four said on Monday they are considering the move.

Campaigners called on the Government to completely abandon the plan, with opposition politicians and charities lining up to condemn the proposals and arguing it will do nothing to stop Channel crossings.

Ministers are considering introducing tougher laws to circumvent and ignore a potential ruling from Strasbourg.

A Bill of Rights which will be introduced next year will also give UK courts the power to ignore so-called Rule 39 injunctions.

In the Commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman insisted the plan was “humane and practical” that would make the route across the Channel “unviable”.

Britain is a “kind and generous country” but does not have “infinite capacity”, she told MPs, adding: “We cannot tolerate people coming here illegally.”

She also dismissed “misinformation” about Rwanda, stressing it was a “safe and democratic” country.

“The court held that the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda is consistent with the Refugee Convention, and with the statutory and other legal obligations on the Government, including obligations imposed by the Human Rights Act.

“This judgment thoroughly vindicates the Rwanda partnership.

“I spoke with my Rwandan counterpart, Vincent Biruta, and we both confirmed our joint and steadfast resolve to deliver this partnership at scale as soon as possible.

“It’s what the overwhelming majority of the British people want to see happen.

“The sooner it is up and running, the sooner we will break the business model of the evil gangs and bring an end to these illegal, unnecessary and unsafe crossings,” Ms Braverman said.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, however, warned the ruling sets out “evidence of serious problems in Home Office decision making”, identifies “significant financial costs” of the scheme and “very limited numbers of people who would qualify” as well as “no evidence this will act as a deterrent.”

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The court concluded the Home Office decision-making in each of the eight cases was “so flawed and chaotic” that they had to be quashed, she added.

Rishi Sunak welcomed the High Court’s decision, telling broadcasters in Riga: “We’ve always maintained that our Rwanda policy is lawful, and I’m pleased that was confirmed today and this is just one part of our plan to tackle illegal migration.”

The Rwandan government said it stands ready to “offer asylum seekers and migrants safety and the opportunity to build a new life in Rwanda”, describing the ruling as a “positive step in our quest to contribute innovative, long-term solutions to the global migration crisis.”

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