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Outcry as appeal court refuses to stop Home Office flight carrying asylum seekers from UK to Rwanda

Placards depicting Paddington Bear and the words "Migration is not a crime" are displayed as people protest against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda outside the Home Office on June 14, 2022 in London, England. [Leon Neal/Getty Images]
Placards depicting Paddington Bear and the words "Migration is not a crime" are displayed as people protest against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda outside the Home Office on June 14, 2022 in London, England. [Leon Neal/Getty Images]

An appeal court judge has refused to stop a Home Office flight carrying asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda from leaving this evening.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal in London threw out last minute legal challenges to the British government's decision to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

It follows a ruling by the High Court on Friday that the deportation flight can go ahead, despite a legal challenge by two refugee charities and a trade union and a separate legal challenge by Asylum Aid.

Under the £120 million ($150 million) scheme, migrants crossing the English Channel to seek asylum in the UK – which the government refers to as "illegal routes" – will be sent to Rwanda for processing.

The first group are set to leave tonight, despite the fact that the plan has been challenged by human rights organisations and politicians who highlight Rwanda's dire human rights record, including the forcible disappearance of dissidents, arbitrary detention and torture of political opponents.

A Ugandan refugee told Sky News that asylum seekers are being sent to their death.

A protest took place outside the Home Office yesterday evening.

Other politicians condemned the Rwanda plan.

 

Yesterday's protest follows another demonstration which took place at an immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport on Sunday afternoon.

Despite mounting opposition, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the government's policy. "This is about making sure that we break the business model of criminal gangs."

Former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal points out that the prime minister has a history of breaking the law, despite saying, "it's the government's job to stop people breaking the law".

The charity Justice for Iran says a former Iranian policeman who testified against the regime and refused to shoot people protesting peacefully when fuel prices tripled will no longer be on the flight.

On Friday, 130 asylum seekers were told they would have to leave but the number is rapidly reducing because of legal challenges on modern slavery and human rights grounds.

It was also reported that everyone could be pulled off the flight.

Many critics have asked why hosts in the UK are being paid to house Ukrainian refugees whilst other nationalities are being sent to Rwanda.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Glasgow says he's appalled and scandalised by the policy.

The plan is a "moral failure", the Bishop of Manchester told Newsnight.

In a letter to the Times, the entire senior leadership of the Church of England denounced the "immoral" Rwanda scheme "that shames Britain."

Whilst former refugee and now a doctor, Waheed Arian, points out that most refugees integrate and contribute once given safety.

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