UK courts to hear last-minute appeals to block first Rwanda deportation flight

Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation in Britain on June 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
At least 30 individuals are scheduled to be removed on the first flight to Rwanda. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON, (REUTERS) - London's courts will hear two last-minute legal challenges on Monday (June 13) to block the British government's controversial policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda before the first removal flight scheduled to leave on Tuesday.

Britain has agreed a deal with Rwanda to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda in return for an initial payment of £120 million ((S$205 million).

The deportation strategy is aimed at undermining people-smuggling networks, and stemming the flow of migrants risking their lives by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe.

At least 30 individuals are scheduled to be removed on the first flight to Rwanda. The government has not provided details of those selected for deportation, but charities say they include people fleeing Afghanistan and Syria.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to press ahead with the policy despite the legal challenges and the alleged opposition from Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.

The Court of Appeal will hear arguments from two human rights groups and a trade union on Monday after a judge refused their request for an injunction blocking the flight taking off.

The judge said last week there was a "material public interest" in allowing the government to pursue the policy.

The High Court will separately hear arguments from Asylum Aid, a refugee charity, which launched a second legal challenge to stop the government flying refugees to Rwanda.

The charity said the government's plan to give asylum seekers seven days to obtain legal advice and to present their case to avoid deportation is flawed and unfair.

This case will be heard by the same judge who on Friday rejected the first request for an injunction.

Over the weekend, Prince Charles was reported by The Times newspaper to have privately described the government's policy as "appalling".

A spokesman for Prince Charles did not deny he had expressed personal opinions about the policy, but stressed that he remains "politically neutral".

Under Britain's unwritten constitution, members of the royal family are expected to avoid making political comments.

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