‘Only 11’ migrants left on first deportation flight to Rwanda after legal challenges

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It came as lawyers for a coalition of two refugee charities, Detention Action and Care4Calais, and the PCS union, which represents Border Force staff, appealed Friday’s rejection of their injunction on Friday.

The charity Asylum Aid, backed by Freedom from Torture, will also mount a fresh attempt to stop the flight in the high court on Monday afternoon.

Raza Husain, QC for the two charities and PCS union, said their appeal was based on the contention that Mr Justice Swift, the judge who rejected the injunction on Friday, had not correctly decided how strong the claimants’ case was and came to the wrong conclusion.

They claim that her decision to send migrants to Rwanda was “irrational” because of its inability and lack of capacity to deal with their applications for asylum safely and fairly.

Mr Husain cited documents showing the UN refugee agency UNHCR told Priti Patel in April of three recent cases of asylum seekers in Rwanda being unlawfully deported. 

He said the Home Secretary “appears to have both ignored and (subsequently) failed to disclose that advice.”

Home Office ‘mischaracterised’ role of UNHCR

Mr Husain told the court that the Home Office had also mischaracterised the role on the UNHCR in Rwanda in seven letters to asylum seekers by suggesting the agency was involved in the asylum system in the country.

He claimed this was misleading and that the Home Office had now apologised saying the department “misread” their own report on safety in Rwanda.

In written submissions for an injunction, he said: “If interim relief [an injunction] is refused and the claim succeeds, each claimant will be entitled to a ‘bring back’ order. If it is possible to bring the individuals back, which it may not be, this will have very significant administrative cost.

“Every individual who has been forcibly removed is also likely to have significant claims for damages…This potential cost to the taxpayer, in itself outweighs any inconvenience of a six-week delay pending removal pending trial.”

On Monday, Rwanda’s high commissioner attacked critics of the Government’s plan to deport Channel migrants to his country, insisting they will be treated in “safety, dignity and respect.”

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Johnston Busingye insisted Rwanda had turned a corner in the wake of reported comments by Prince Charles that the plan was “appalling.”

The high commissioner said he was “disappointed” that critics had questioned Rwanda’s motives for agreeing the scheme and doubted its ability to provide a safe haven to vulnerable asylum seekers.

Rory Dunlop QC, for the Home Office, said the judge in Friday’s hearing has to have been “irrational or plainly wrong” in his decisions about the risk of refoulement [the unlawful return of refugees] for the appeal to succeed. And, he told the court, he was not.

He concluded: “This is a policy which if it works could save lives as well as disrupting the model of traffickers. Even if we’re just talking about cancelling a flight tomorrow there is a prejudice to the public interest.”

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