UK May Ignore Future Injunctions Against Deporting Illegal Immigrants
19:55 GMT 16.06.2022 (Updated: 17:07 GMT 22.07.2023)
More than 28,500 people were trafficked across the English Channel and the North Sea in 2021, more than three times 2020's figure of 8,400. The total so far for 2022 is over 10,000. Home Office figures show that three-quarters of arrivals are young men aged 18 to 39.
The British government could disregard any more rulings by Europe's human rights court against settling asylum-seekers in Rwanda.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday that a last-minute injunction granted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was "quite wrong."
A privately-chartered flight to take just seven trafficked immigrants who had claimed asylum to the East African country on Tuesday night was halted by the court, after attempts by British lawyers to seek injunctions from the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
The ECHR, headquartered in the French city of Strasbourg, is an institution of the Council of Europe — a separate body from the European Union, which the UK left in 2020.
Raab argued that the 'Rule 39' interim orders used to stop the flight were "not grounded" in the European Convention on Human Rights, the legal basis of the court's decisions.
"They're based on the rules and procedure, internal rules of the court. I certainly believe they should not have a legally binding effect under UK law," Raab told Times Radio. "Particularly in a situation as we've seen recently where the High Court (and) the Court of Appeal have considered at length the issues, in particular the question of whether to allow injunctive relief, and have roundly in that particular case, rejected them."
"I don't think that either in this case or in general it is right for the Strasbourg court to assume a power of injunction and then apply it. It's not grounded in the Convention and I don't think it's right as a matter of policy."
The Telegraph reported that ministers were considering an "opt-out" from European human rights conventions over the latest interference by the ECHR.
Raab said new post-Brexit human rights legislation could allow the government to dismiss future ECHR rulings.
"Not under the Human Rights Act, but we will address this squarely with the bill of rights," he clarified.
And he said the High Court was "very clear" in its ruling earlier this week that there was "no realistic risk that in the interim period there would have been any harm to those who would have been deported."
Raab told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the ruling would "strengthen" the case for reforming human rights law and jurisdiction.
"We're going to stay in the convention but make sure the procedural framework is reformed," he said.
The government's deal with Rwandan president Paul Kagame's government has been attacked by opposition parties, senior Church of England clergy and even Prince Charles, who broke the monarchy's rule of political neutrality to call it "appalling."
Rwanda was admitted as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, headed by Queen Elizabeth II, in 2009 despite having never been a British colony.
More than 28,500 people were trafficked across the English Channel and the North Sea in 2021, more than three times 2020's figure of 8,400. The total so far for 2022 is over 10,000. Home Office figures show that three-quarters of arrivals are young men aged 18 to 39. New arrivals are accommodated in hotels at taxpayer expense.
The deceptively narrow seaways are prone to treacherous weather conditions, and many victims of trafficking have died on the crossings in small and flimsy boats. 27 drowned when a boat capsized in November 2021.