An eleventh hour intervention on Tuesday evening from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) cancelled the inaugural flight carrying asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk
The UK government is preparing for the next flight to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda after the first flight was cancelled at the eleventh hour on Tuesday evening.
A late intervention from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which came minutes before the take-off, led to fresh challenges in the UK courts, according to a BBC report.
The flight had been due to take off at 22:30 BST from a military airport in Wiltshire on Tuesday, but a judgement from the ECHR in Strasbourg halting the deportation of one of the men arrived just after 19:30, the BBC reported.
The Strasbourg human rights court said an Iraqi man known as KN faced “a real risk of irreversible harm” if he remained on the flight.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the government was “surprised and disappointed” with the ruling but “lawyers in the Home Office are already working on the next steps”, it was reported.
“I know officials will already be preparing for the next flight”, she said, explaining the government’s aim was to create “safe legal routes for people to get asylum”.
Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, who represented the lead case before the ECHR on Rwanda, said “One of the things that makes Britain great… is that we will abide by international courts and international law.”
The Rwanda asylum plan, announced by the government in April, intends to take some asylum seekers who cross the Channel to the UK on a one-way ticket to Rwanda to claim asylum there instead. The government said the scheme would discourage others from crossing the Channel.
Once in Rwanda, there is a generous support package, including up to 5 years of training, accommodation, and healthcare on arrival, the UK Home Office had earlier said.
Under this partnership the UK is also investing an initial £120 million into the economic development and growth of Rwanda.
The partnership forms part of the New Plan for Immigration, the government’s response to overhaul the asylum system – which according to the government is currently costing the UK taxpayer £1.5 billion a year – to create a “fair but firm” immigration system.
Up to seven people had been expected to be removed to Rwanda on the Boeing 767, chartered at an estimate cost of £500,000, on Tuesday evening.
Soon after the grounding of the flight, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “disappointed” with the ruling but said that government was preparing for the next flight.
“Access to the UK’s asylum system must be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. The demands on the current system, the cost to the taxpayer, and the flagrant abuses are increasing, and the British public have rightly had enough,” reports quoted Patel as saying.
“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s flight was unable to depart,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the move by government was already “cruel and callous.”
“BREAKING: Tonight’s inhumane deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda has been stopped by the ECtHR – minutes before it was due to depart. Sending people fleeing violence to a country thousands of miles away was already cruel and callous. It’s now potentially unlawful too,” the Mayor tweeted.