UK Rwanda flights: judge allows first flight sending asylum-seekers to Rwanda to go ahead

Britain’s government announced in April that it had agreed a deal to send asylum-seekers to the East African country, in a move that it insisted was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous Channel crossing to England from Europe.

Justice Swift rejected the urgent injunction brought by campaigners at London’s Royal Courts of Justice on Friday, saying on the “balance of convenience” there was a “material public interest” in allowing the flights to go ahead while the judicial review was ongoing.

The first flight, scheduled to leave the UK on Tuesday, is due to carry refugees to Rwanda as part of the Home Office’s controversial scheme to process asylum-seekers via the East African country.

The scheme is under judicial review at the Royal Courts, where a ruling on its legality is expected in late July.

The government aims to discourage people from crossing the English Channel by moving asylum-seekers to Rwanda. Home Office lawyers told the court the plan must not be stopped by legal challenges because it was in the public interest.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel shakes hands with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Birutaare after signing the partnership agreement at a joint news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 14.

The challenge was brought by human rights groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), a trades union representing civil servants in Britain’s Home Office, and four asylum-seekers facing deportation to Rwanda. They claimed UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s policy was “unlawful on multiple bases,” and sought an injunction to stop the plane from taking off.

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