Priti Patel provides update on Rwanda flight
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Senior lawyers fear the court will repeatedly use temporary injunctions to delay the UK from imposing its strategy to reduce illegal migration. The deportation flight was set to take off on Tuesday evening but was delayed at the 11th hour when an out-of-hours judge for the European court intervened.
Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a landmark agreement with Rwanda earlier this year for asylum seekers to be relocated to Rwanda.
Ministers hope the plan will help stop people from making the dangerous journey across the English Channel in small boats.
Those arriving via the route would be automatically processed for being sent abroad.
But delays in implementing the policy due to the ECHR’s decision risk undermining the effectiveness of the plan.
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Legal experts say it could now take over a year for a full hearing by the ECHR to conclude and that interim injunctions will likely continue to be granted in the meantime.
“If the Supreme Court in the end upholds the lawfulness of removal to Rwanda, it is of course entirely conceivable – indeed probable – that the [European court] will make further interim measures restricting removals to Rwanda until the [court] has itself had time to hold a hearing and to make its own decision,” a paper by lawyers for the think tank Policy Exchange said.
“What this means is that, if the UK complies and if the [European court] – as it routinely does – takes its time then the Government’s Rwanda policy may not go ahead for years.
“That would effectively end it.”
Richard Ekins, the University of Oxford’s professor of law and constitutional government, and former civil servant Sir Stephen Laws both contributed to the paper.
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab admitted being frustrated by the court’s last-minute decision.
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Speaking this morning, he described the Rwanda deal as a “sensible, proportionate plan”.
“I don’t quite know what the courts are going to decide on the main hearing,” he said, admitting the court could rule against the policy.
“What I can tell you is that I’m very confident that we set out a sensible, proportionate plan, which, far from eroding human rights, will protect human rights because it will help stem this trade in migrants, this trade in human misery.”
He added that it was now impossible to know when the next Rwanda flight would be able to take off.
Yesterday, a further 233 people had to be rescued from the Channel and brought ashore.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Defence, six boats were intercepted
There are fears vulnerable migrants will continue to be exploited by people traffickers and persuaded to make the dangerous crossing until the Rwanda policy is fully operational.
Last November at least 27 people died when a boat capsized while attempting to make the journey from France.
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