The first planned deportation flight from Great Britain to Rwanda with asylum seekers of different nationalities was stopped by a court shortly before departure. The British Home Office confirmed this to the BBC after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg thwarted the British government’s plans with a rare intervention.
Because of legal objections, the flight tickets of the last remaining asylum seekers to be deported were also canceled, the Care4Calais organization said on Twitter.
The European Court of Human Rights had initially asked Britain not to fly an Iraqi asylum seeker to Rwanda for the time being. The court’s decision was made on Tuesday evening, shortly before the man was to be taken to the East African country with other people. The court then extended its objection to all of the seven men concerned.
In a so-called interim measure, the court asked the British authorities to take the men out of the country no earlier than three weeks after a final decision in the ongoing proceedings in Great Britain. The court should be informed of the final decision. According to the court, interim measures are binding and are only imposed rarely and when there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage.
A British court in London had previously ruled that the flight could take off as scheduled – but announced that it would review the new legislation again. If it is not legal, those affected could come back to Great Britain from Rwanda.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said he would not deviate from his new asylum plan. It was always clear to him that its implementation would involve a long road with many legal hurdles.
Britain has signed an agreement with Rwanda in a bid to crack down on irregular migration. People who have entered the UK illegally should be brought into the country, regardless of their nationality or origin, and given the opportunity to apply for asylum there. Even if they are recognized there as refugees, there should never be a return to Great Britain. The United Nations sees this as a breach of international law and a dangerous precedent.
The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, is part of the Council of Europe. The bodies that are independent of the European Union work together to protect human rights in the 46 member states.