UK plan to send migrants to Rwanda ‘dangerous’, court says

The government announced in April that it had reached a deal to send potentially tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the East African nation, in a bid to undermine smuggling networks and stem flows of migrants risking their lives crossing the English Channel in small boats. of Europe.

The first flight to Rwanda was due to leave on June 14 and a first group of migrants received official letters informing them that they would be deported, the government said last week.

In the High Court, lawyers representing some of these migrants, as well as charities and unions, sought an injunction to prevent the theft from taking place, claiming the government’s position was based on false assurances about Rwanda’s ability to to provide protection to asylum seekers and process their applications.

“The thesis argued by the Secretary of State that Rwanda offers safe asylum is irrational,” said Raza Hussain, a lawyer for Care4Calais, Detention Action and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents officials from the Ministry of the Interior ( Home Office) of Great Britain.

Hussain said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had raised concerns about the scheme, contrary to what the government suggested the agency had given him the green light.

“This is a false claim,” he said, calling it “misleading and inaccurate.”

In written submissions, the Home Office legal team said the plan was legal, but said it had canceled plans to remove three asylum seekers who had originally been part of the case, without elaborating.

PUBLIC INTEREST

Government lawyers have said that even if the judge accepts an injunction, it should only apply to those involved in the action, and not be a blanket blocking of next week’s flight.

There is “a clear public interest in deterring dangerous travel and the activities of criminal smugglers,” meaning the robbery must go ahead as planned, they said.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said around 130 migrants were at risk of deportation, many of them from Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The judge is expected to rule on the injunction later.

The government’s plan has caused a stir among human rights groups, liberal and left-wing opposition lawmakers and some members of Johnson’s conservative party.

Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees crossed from mainland Europe into Britain. In November, 27 people drowned in the English Channel when their small boat deflated, and many more had to be rescued in this narrow sea lane, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Under the government’s plan, anyone who has arrived in Britain illegally since January 1 could be relocated to Rwanda.

The government hopes the plan will discourage Channel crossings, although more than 3,500 people have arrived in Britain on small boats since mid-April, when Rwanda’s plan was unveiled, according to government figures.

Vince Fernandez

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