The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided at the last minute on Tuesday evening the departure prevented of the first flight to bring refugees from the United Kingdom to Rwanda, Reuters news agency reported. While British judges had approved the controversial deportation flight, according to the ECtHR there is “a real risk of irreversible suffering” for the asylum seekers.
Also read: UK wants to deport ‘fortune seekers’ to Rwanda
The United Kingdom signed an agreement with Rwanda in April, under which it was agreed that the African country would receive illegal immigrants and asylum seekers for a fee. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to discourage people smuggling and prevent migrants from making the dangerous crossing from France to England. The plan sparked a storm of protest from human rights groups, church leaders and Filippo Grandi, the head of UN refugee agency UNHCR. Several lawsuits have been filed, but British judges have so far dismissed all objections.
In a written statement, Minister Priti Pratel of the Interior is surprised that the ECtHR has put a stop to the flight at the last minute. “I have always said that this policy will not be easy to implement, but after the repeated successes in courts in our own country, it is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has now intervened.”
Originally, 37 people were supposed to be on Tuesday night’s flight, but on the day of the scheduled departure, there were only seven left. According to deputy director James Wilson of human rights organization Detention Action, ECtHR rulings in individual cases on Tuesday show that no one should be forced to flee until the United Kingdom appeals against the entire policy. That should be next month.
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