UK set to fly first planeload of illegal immigrants to Rwanda

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh with agency report

Ruling that politicians must manage immigration policy, a British judge at the weekend rejected an emergency bid to block deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda under an agreement with the east African country.

The UK government intends to fly the first planeload of claimants to Rwanda on June 14, after agreeing the plan with Kigali in a bid to deter illegal migrants from undertaking dangerous crossings of the Channel by boat.

Britain’s government announced in April that it had agreed a deal to send asylum-seekers to the East African country, in a move that it insisted was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous Channel crossing to England from Europe.

Refugee rights groups and a trade union representing UK Border Force personnel challenged the plan in London’s High Court, seeking an injunction against Tuesday’s initial flight and any beyond then.

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They argue that the plan violates asylum seekers’ human rights, and say the government cannot justify its claim that Rwanda is a safe destination. Delivering his decision after a one-day hearing, judge Jonathan Swift said it was in the public interest for Interior Minister Priti Patel to be able to implement immigration control decisions.

Swift gave permission for his ruling to be appealed, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday, while also setting the date for a fuller two-day High Court hearing next month. The rights groups bidding to block the policy said they were “disappointed” with the decision.

“It is extremely worrying that despite these legal challenges and widespread concern, the government remain determined to press ahead with the removal of people to Rwanda as soon as next week,” chief executive of the Refugee Council, Enver Soloman, said.

The government remains committed to the policy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

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