UK-Rwanda deportation deal attacks 'basic dignity' say lawyers at appeals court

·2-min read

At an appeals court hearing taking place in London, lawyers have argued that the British government’s plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda undermines the “basic dignity” of people who are escaping war and oppression.

The Court of Appeal in London is hearing an application filed by a coalition of groups, including immigration rights advocates and public employee unions this Monday.

They are seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that would allow the first deportation flight to take off as scheduled on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, activists are challenging the deportations on a person-by-person basis, seeking to ensure that no migrants will be eligible for deportation even if the flights are allowed to go ahead.

This comes as demonstration are taking place in British capital today, in protest at the "inhumane" accord between London and Kigali.

Government may be forced to pay damages

Raza Husain, a lawyer for the migrants, said the lower court's decision not to issue an injunction against the deportations “cannot rationally be sustained" because of concerns about the protection of migrant rights in Rwanda.

As a result, there is a significant chance the policy will ultimately be blocked by the courts, exposing the government to claims for damages from anyone wrongly deported, Husain said in documents filed with the court.

The lawyer argues that the government’s plan involves the forced removal of asylum-seekers to a country they don’t want to travel to as part of a policy intended to deter others from entering Britain.

Husain told the court: “This amounts, on any view, to a serious interference with basic dignity … where those individuals have already suffered significant trauma and have mental health issues."

€150 million down payment to Kigali

In April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government announced plans to send some undocumented migrants to Rwanda.

Migrants deported under the program would be forced to apply for asylum in Rwanda, not the UK.

Britain paid Rwanda £120 million (€150 million approx.) up front and will make additional payments based on the number of people deported.

The program is aimed at discouraging migrants from risking their lives by crossing the English Channel in small boats after a surge in such journeys over the past two years.

However, human rights groups say the policy is illegal, inhumane and will only magnify the risks for migrants.

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