U.K. cancels flight to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda after court challenges

Human rights activists demonstrate outside the Home Office in London on June 13. (Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

LONDON — A dramatic legal showdown concluded Tuesday night with the British government canceling its first planned flight to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Just hours before the flight was scrubbed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was defending the plan as a way to deter desperate immigrants from crossing the English Channel in unseaworthy rubber rafts — and to break the “business case” of smugglers who help them.

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But the number of people on the inaugural flight had diminished as individual challenges made their way through the British court system in recent days. And although U.K. courts refused to ground the plane altogether, the government had little choice after a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

The human rights court granted an “urgent interim measure,” suggesting that people should not be removed before a U.K. judicial review of the policy scheduled to take place in July.

Home Secretary Priti Patel expressed the government’s frustration.

“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s flight was unable to depart,” she said.

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About Joel Cholo Brooks 13524 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.
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