#Headlines

European Court cancels 1st UK-Rwanda deportation flight 

Jun 21, 2022, 11:34 AM

The first deportation flight from Britain to Rwanda slated to transfer asylum seekers including Gambians who crossed the English Channel from France has been cancelled; thanks to the crucial intervention of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). 

Even though The Point reliably gathered that the first flight was not boarded by any Gambian national, the paper was equally reminded that “there is no guarantee yet that subsequent flights would not involve them…” 

Nonetheless, following an intense and passionate legal battle, the opening flight that was finally allowed to take off not only by High Court, but also by the Appeals Court, was dramatically grounded by the ECtHR decision. 

The judgement came as a huge shock to the conservative government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who personally supported the transportation of the refugees to East Africa. 

Similarly, according to legal and financial analysts, the decision is a “massive blow to the credibility of the courts as well as to the tax payers considering the huge amount of money spent…” 

It is also vital to recall that earlier, Justice Swift of the High Court noted “that there was a material public interest in Home Secretary Priti Patel being able to carry out her policies… there was any evidence asylum seekers would be ill-treated”. 

Consequently, an appeal was submitted by the lawyers and various organisations fighting for the migrants not to transfer them against their will.  

But the appeal was equally unsuccessful when Lord Reeds, the Appeals Court president outlined that there was “assurance that if the government policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda was found to be unlawful…steps would be taken to bring back any migrants flown…” 

Furthermore, the Appeals Court said it could not “interfere” because the previous decision was “clear and detailed”. 

But remarkably, the ECHR overruled both courts that “no one should be forced on to a plane until the policy was fully scrutinised in a High Court hearing next month…” 

It is vital to note that even though the UK is no longer in the EU, nonetheless, the Strasbourg human rights court is part of the Council of Europe, which the UK is still a member. 

The court also vividly mentioned the UN’s concerns with regards to the refugees as well as the notion that “Rwanda would not have access to fair and efficient” processes to determine their various refugee status. 

Notwithstanding, the Home Secretary Priti Patel reacting, said that even though she was “disappointed…reparation for the next flight begins now…” 

A Gambian national, who earlier received a letter warning him not to stop reporting to the Immigration as required, said he was still “terrified”. The letter handed over to him revealed…“You are liable to detention, and by failing to report as required, you render yourself liable to prosecution under Section 24 (1) (e) of the Immigration Act 1971…This carries a six months prison sentence, and a fine of up to 5000 pounds or both…” 

Whatever the circumstances, as both parties continue to battle the matter in court, the fate of the asylum seekers still hangs in the balance. 

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