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Rwanda Critical Media Forums Crazy World Rwanda desperate asylum seekers flight cancelled

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      A controversial flight to Rwanda carrying desperate asylum seekers has been cancelled at the eleventh hour after Boris Johnson’s government faced multiple legal challenges.

      Rwanda refugeesThe flight scheduled for 10.30pm tonight was set to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and have only seven asylum seekers on board, before last minute interventions by the European Court of Human Rights saw all migrants removed from the plane.

      The decision comes after the Tories’ plan to to take its cargo of desperate asylum seekers and dump them 4,000 miles away in the East African country sparked outrage and a day of protests from activists, charities, and religious leaders, who blasted it as inhumane.

      However, tonight a source at the Home Office described the intervention by the European Court of Human Rights as “awful”.

      A Home Office source told the media: “It’s awful that despite repeated rulings from domestic judges, an out of hours judge at the European Court of Human Rights has stopped the relocation of illegal migrants.”

      It began to descend into chaos when one of the seven migrants expected to be on board, an Iraqi national, was the first to be given a late reprieve by the European Court of Human Rights with an urgent interim measure. A second was also reportedly allowed to stay here. It is understood the Court was considering a number of further requests.

      Rwanda refugees

      The Boeing 767 at MoD Boscombe Down near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda

      Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon said tonight: “Whilst we are relieved to hear the flight to Rwanda did not take off as planned tonight, it is clear that the Government remain determined to press on with this deal – leaving us to continue to witness the human suffering, distress, and chaos the threat of removal will cause with far reaching consequences for desperate people who are simply in need of safety.

      “The fact that the final flight could not take off is indicative of the inhumanity of the plan and the Government’s complete refusal to see the face behind the case.”

      Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: “We’re pleased the courts have ruled to stop this flight.

      “It’s time for the Government to stop this inhumane policy which is the basest of gesture politics and start to engage seriously with sorting out the asylum system so those who come to our country seeking refuge are treated fairly and according to the law.”

      Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was disappointed the flight to Rwanda was not able to leave but would not be “deterred from doing the right thing”.

      She described the European Court of Human Rights intervention as “very surprising”, adding that “many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next”.

      She said the Home Office legal team is reviewing “every decision made on this flight”, and that preparation for the next flight “begins now”.

      A Government source even admitted earlier tonight they expected the original number of 130 on the flight to “end up at zero”.

      Leaders of the Church of England, including the archbishops of ­Canterbury and York, branded the “immoral policy” a move that “should shame us as a nation” and accused the PM of outsourcing “our ethical ­responsibilities”.

      Mr Johnson had claimed deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda would help put an end to smugglers sending them across the Channel in unsafe vessels.

      But Labour peer Lord Coaker branded the policy “unethical, unworkable and expensive” and said it “flies in the face of British values”.

      And Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added: “We need action to get targeted safe legal routes for those who are most at risk of exploitation, redoing the existing resettlement schemes in order to do that to try to prevent some of the illegal exploitation.”

      Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Lord Paddick said: “Israel tried the same policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and it failed.

      “When will the Government admit its Rwanda policy is less about stopping smugglers and everything to do with the UK abdicating its moral responsibility to give genuine asylum seekers sanctuary in this country and its legal obligations under the UN refugee convention?”

      Prince Charles has reportedly called the Government’s plan “appalling”. Protesters branded the deportations racist and locked themselves together with metal pipes and blockaded exits at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow airport.

      The 200-seat chartered Boeing 767-35D flight was due to take off from Boscombe Down airbase in Wiltshire.

      The first man to be given a reprieve was Iraqi. The ECHR said its decision was made “on an exceptional basis” and when the applicant would face a real risk of “irreversible harm”.

      At the High Court earlier, judge Mr Justice Swift rejected bids to prevent the removal of a Kurd, an Iraqi Kurd, a Vietnamese and a man who travelled to the UK from Iran.

      A separate application for permission to appeal by an Iraqi was rejected by the Supreme Court.

      But Mr Johnson sparked a row with lawyers when he suggested they were “abetting the work of criminal gangs”. He told Cabinet colleagues, including Home Secretary Priti Patel who signed the deal: “They are, I’m afraid, undermining everything that we’re trying to do to support safe and legal routes for people to come to the UK and to oppose the illegal and dangerous routes.”

      He acknowledged there had been criticism of the plan from “some slightly unexpected quarters” but highlighted the legal profession as the main source of opposition to the Rwanda policy, which will send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation.

      Asked if Britain might withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, he said: “It is certainly the case that… the legal world is very good at picking up ways of trying to stop the government from upholding what we think is a sensible law.

      “Will it be necessary to change some laws to help us as we go along? It may very well be and all these options are under constant review.”

      Sangeeta Shah, a professor of international law and human rights at the University of Nottingham said Britain would be joining Belarus and Russia in not being part of the convention if it did opt out. Last week, Russia’s parliament passed bills to end the European court’s jurisdiction.

      “Britain would be saying, ‘we don’t believe in a system that the whole of the rest of Europe does believe in’,” she said.

      The Bar Council and Law Society of England and Wales issued a joint statement condemning the PM’s “misleading and dangerous” comments.

      It warned: “Anyone at risk of a life-changing order has a right to challenge its legality with the assistance of a lawyer, who has a duty to advise their client on their rights. The Bar Council and Law Society of England and Wales together call on the PM to stop attacks on legal professionals who are simply doing their jobs.”

      The plane, chartered from Spanish airline Privilege Style, was bound for Rwandan capital Kigali. Those on board will be take to the Hope Hostel in the city. It is understood they will be processed in a tent erected next door.

      Staff revealed they were expecting guests today.

      Officers last night guarded the gates at Boscombe Down, where a van with a “heavy police escort” arrived earlier.

      Asked asked why a military airfield was being used rather than a civilian airport, the PM’s spokesman said: “We need to plan these flights so that they are done in a secure manner, so that they are done properly.”

      More than 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived here in small inflatables this year. More arrived yesterday, across the world’s busiest shipping lane. Under the Rwanda deal signed in April, some refugees living over there will be transferred to the UK

      Downing Street this lunchtime said it could guarantee a removal flight to Rwanda would definitely happen tonight after a torrent of legal challenges.

      But asked just before noon, Boris Johnson ’s official spokesman said “at this point I can’t be definitive” when asked if the highly controversial plane would still take off.

      It comes after a bid to legally prevent the flight going ahead via a High Court appeal failed last week.

      The appeal was brought by the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents more than 80% of Border Force staff, along with the Care4Calais and Detention Action charities.

      Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added: “We need action to get targeted safe legal routes for those who are most at risk of exploitation, redoing the existing resettlement schemes in order to do that to try to prevent some of the illegal exploitation.”

      Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Lord Paddick said: “Israel tried the same policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and it failed.

      “When will the Government admit its Rwanda policy is less about ­stopping smugglers and everything to do with the UK ­abdicating its moral responsibility to give genuine asylum seekers sanctuary in this country and its legal obligations under the UN refugee convention?”

      The organisations had failed in a High Court bid to get an injunction on Friday.

      Moments after No10’s comments in a press briefing today, one of four asylum seekers who tried to block his removal at the High Court this morning had his case dismissed by a judge.

      The man, an Iranian Kurd who had suffered PTSD in Turkey while travelling to the UK, had brought a claim asking not to be removed on the upcoming flight due to his mental health and his relationship with his sister in the UK.

      However, in a short ruling on Tuesday morning, Mr Justice Swift refused to grant interim relief.

      A Vietnamese man also failed to persuade a High Court judge to halt his removal to Rwanda, in the second case of the day.

      His barrister said the man had claimed asylum after receiving “death threats from loan sharks” in Vietnam and had not been given a reasonable opportunity to make representations.

      But Mr Justice Swift also refused to grant interim relief.

      Up to 130 asylum seekers were told they would be on the first charter flight to the African nation ordered by the Home Office.

      But despite the Court of Appeal allowing the flight to go ahead, and the Supreme Court refusing permission for a further appeal this lunchtime, the number of passengers was initially whittled down to seven by individual legal actions.

      This was before four of the people due to be on the deportation flight, including from Iran, brought challenges in the High Court.

      Supreme Court President Lord Reed said there had been an “assurance” that, if the policy is later found to be unlawful, steps will be taken to bring back any migrants who were flown to Rwanda.

      Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss vowed the flight would go ahead with only a few passengers despite costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

      Asked if it would not fly if all asylum seekers were pulled off the flight, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman replied: “That’s my understanding, but I’m not going to be speculating on what courts may or may not decide.”

      He refused to rule out letting the flight go ahead even if only one asylum seeker is on board.

      Migrants set to be transferred from UK to Rwanda will be welcomed to fully furnished rooms equipped with different amenities to ensure they live in comfort, according to government officials.

      The flight carrying the first group of asylum seekers and migrants from the UK is expected to land at Kigali International Airport on Wednesday, June 15. The number of those that will be on board is yet to be announced.

      Rwanda refugees

      Upon arrival, the migrants will be checked in Hope Hostels which is located in Kagugu, Gasabo district, which is also equipped with several entertainment facilities.

      Rwanda refugees

      Journalists cover the news briefing in Kigali on June 14.

      “They will be looked after and supported to start a new life here, we will provide them with legal support and translation services along with decent accommodation facilities. For those who will want to leave Rwanda, we will support them to head back to their country of origin or to a third country,” said the government spokesperson Yolande Makolo while addressing a press conference on Tuesday June 14.

      She said that Rwanda is determined to make its partnership with the UK on migration work, saying that, “we understand there might be opposition to this but we are asking that we give this program a chance to serve as a solution. People are suffering, the asylum system is broken and being taken advantage of by criminals who are exploiting people, people are losing their live. Something has to be done.”

      She added that the programme is also giving people an opportunity to see what it is like to live in Rwanda.

      The Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership intends to disrupt the business model of organised crime gangs that make a fortune from illegally shipping migrants to the UK; will also intend to deter migrants from putting their lives at risk.

      The partnership was shaped in a manner that prioritizes the dignity and rights of migrants, empowering them with a range of opportunities for building a better life in a country which has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s safest.

      Meanwhile, the Chief Technical Advisor in the Ministry of Justice Doris Uwicyeza who is among the team the negotiated and worked on the partnership dismissed reports that among the migrants to be sent to Rwanda included minors.

      “There won’t be any unaccompanied minors among the U.K. migrants to be relocated to Rwanda for processing. It’s not part of the agreement,” she said

      The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management, Philippe Habinshuti said that more amenities will be added depending on the liking of the residents.

      At the conference, Alain Mukuralinda, the Deputy Spokesperson of the government also clarified on concerns regarding the safety of LGBTQ+ people within the UK migrants who will be transferred to Rwanda saying that, “Our laws do not discriminate. We are a society that suffered severely over discrimination, that’s why we are strongly against any form of discrimination.”  

      The officials cited Rwanda’s strong record of providing safety to people fleeing danger, including nearly 130,000 refugees from mainly neighbours DR Congo and Burundi, as well as Afghanistan and migrants evacuated from Libya.

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