A challenge to the UK’s new policy to deter asylum-seeker arrivals was rejected by a High Court judge. The UN says refugees risk “serious, irreperable harm” under the relocation plan.
The High Court in London ruled on Friday that deportations of asylum-seekers in the UK to Rwanda can proceed next week.
The policy is meant to deter would-be asylum-seekers from attempting to cross the English Channel and settle in Britain.
The first flight, carrying a few dozen asylum-seekers, is set to take off for Rwanda on June 14. The judge, however, gave the migrants facing deportation permission to make a last-minute appeal.
Refugee rights groups and a trade union representing UK Border Force personnel challenged the plan in court. Human rights groups have slammed the UK policy as unworkable and inhumane.
UK and Rwanda defend policy
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel welcomed the ruling, saying the government would “not be deterred” by any legal challenges.
“We will continue preparations for the first flight to Rwanda, alongside the range of other measures intended to reduce small boat crossings,” she said.
The British government has defended the controversial plan, saying it welcomes refugees who come to Britain by approved immigration routes, but it also wants to put an end to criminal smuggling and dangerous Channel crossings.
Rwanda has also defended the deal, with President Paul Kagame saying it was not about “trading people” but offering a chance for asylum-seekers to begin a new life.
The UK has reportedly paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($148 million; €140 million) upfront for the plan.
UN: refugees risk ‘serious, irreparable harm’
The United Nations has criticized the British plan, saying it violates the international Refugee Convention.
Laura Dubinsky, a lawyer representing the UN refugee agency, said that asylum-seekers sent to Rwanda under the program were at risk of “serious, irreparable harm.”
The UN refugee agency expressed “serious concerns about Rwandan capacity” to handle an influx of new arrivals, Dubinsky said.
Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. The country is already home to tens of thousands of refugees.
jcg/rs (Reuters, dpa, AFP)