UK courts clear Rwanda asylum deal

LONDON. – The British government was to send a first plane carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda yesterday despite last-gasp legal bids and protests against the controversial policy.

A chartered plane was to leave one of London’s airports overnight and land in Kigali on Tuesday, campaigners said, after UK judges rejected an appeal against the deportations.

Claimants had argued that a decision on the policy should have waited until a full hearing on the legality of the policy next month.

Thirty-one migrants were due to be sent but one of the claimants, the NGO Care4Calais, tweeted that 23 of them had now had their tickets cancelled.

Those due to be deported include Albanians, Iraqis, Iranians and a Syrian, Care4Calais said.

Other claimants included the Public and Commercial Services Union, whose members will have to implement the removals, and immigration support group Detention Action.

PCS chief Mark Serwotka said on Sunday it would be “an appalling situation” if Tuesday’s removals were subsequently found to be illegal at the full hearing.

Home Secretary Priti Patel should wait for the July hearing if she “had any respect, not just for the desperate people who come to this country, but for the workers she employs”, Serwotka told Sky News.Protesters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice and the Home Office on Monday.

In Geneva, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi called the UK government policy “all wrong” and said it should not be “exporting its responsibility to another country”.

Church of England leaders, including the most senior cleric the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reiterated criticism of the policy as “one that should shame us as a nation”.

“Our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries,” Welby and 24 other bishops wrote in Tuesday’s Times newspaper.

“Evil trafficking” must be combatted by providing safe routes to the UK to “reduce dangerous journeys”, The Times quoted the bishops as saying ahead of the letter’s publication.

Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson insist the policy is needed to stop a flood of all-too-often deadly migrant crossings of the Channel from France. –

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