The Government’s plan to send the first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda has been abandoned after the European Court of Human Rights intervened.
A ruling in the case of an Iraqi asylum seeker, a possible victim of torture, led to the six remaining passengers also being removed from the plane. The ECHR pointed to evidence that asylum seekers removed to Rwanda will not have access to fair and efficient procedures to decide their asylum claims.
In response, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders.”
Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, told the Guardian that he welcomed the last-minute intervention. Several teenagers wrongly assessed as adults had been among those notified that they faced deportation. The UK is not only offshoring refugees, but also outsourcing the entire operation of its asylum system to another country, he added.
“We need to focus on creating a fair and humane asylum system,” he said. “A country that seeks to abandon compassion is in very bleak territory.”
The flight, operated by the Spanish charter company, Privilege Style, is estimated to have cost around £500,000.
Meanwhile, Suella Braverman, the attorney general, has told the World at One that the Government was “definitely open to assessing” its relationship with the ECHR.
A UK judicial review to determine the legality of the Rwanda offshoring scheme is due to take place in July.