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First UK flight sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to continue after failed appeal

The British government announced in April that it had reached an agreement to send asylum seekers to the East African country. Those granted asylum would then be allowed to resettle in Rwanda.

The government insisted the scheme was aimed at disrupting smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous sea journey across the English Channel to England from France.

The plan has drawn an outpouring of criticism from charities, religious leaders and international human rights groups, including the UN Refugee Agency. A small crowd of protesters gathered outside the court on Monday.

A separate court case brought by the charity Asylum Aid is also being heard by the High Court on Monday. Asylum Aid is seeking an urgent injunction to halt the flight to allow judicial review of the plan.

According to data from the UK Ministry of Defence, 28,526 people arrived in the UK on small boats in 2021.

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The legal challenge to block the deportation flights was brought by human rights groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, as well as the Syndicat des services publics et commercials (PCS), a union which represents some of the UK Home Office employees who would be responsible for carrying out the deportations, as well as several asylum seekers facing deportation to Rwanda.

The organizations claimed the policy was “unlawful on multiple grounds” and sought an injunction to stop the plane from taking off. A full hearing to determine whether the plan is legal or not is due to take place next month. All three groups argued that no eviction flights should take place before this hearing.

They also challenged UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s legal authority to carry out the deportations, the ‘rationality’ of her assertion that Rwanda is generally a ‘safe third country’, given its record human rights, the adequacy of malaria prevention in the country and whether the policy complied with the European Convention on Human Rights.

PCS leader Mark Serwotka said in a statement that the union was “very disappointed with today’s decision, and the position it places our members in who will have to carry out these forced evictions”.

“Today’s judgment does not make the dismissal legal – that will be decided next month. In the meantime, our members are being ordered to do something tomorrow that may be illegal in a few weeks,” he said. added.

In addition, Detention Action also expressed disappointment with the decision.

It’s unclear how many people would be on the first flight on Tuesday, as many of those due to be deported have launched their own individual legal challenges.

Care4Calais said on Friday it was working with 113 people facing deportation to Rwanda. The charity said on Monday that only eight of the 31 people originally due to be deported to the country on Tuesday were still to be deported, after 23 “had their tickets to Rwanda cancelled”.

British judge authorizes first flight sending asylum seekers to Rwanda

Raza Husain, who represented the coalition that launched the appeal, told the court that a person who was due to be on the flight on Tuesday received a decision on Monday that they would still be deported despite being the victim of torture, on the grounds that “Rwanda has a functioning health system that poses no problems”.

Britain’s The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, privately called the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda “appalling”.

“He said he was more than disappointed with politics,” The Times reported, citing an unnamed source. “He said he thought the government’s whole approach was appalling.”

CNN has not independently verified the Times report. Clarence House did not deny the report, but said it would not comment on what it calls “supposedly anonymous private conversations with the Prince of Wales”.

CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite, Zahid Mahmood, Eliza Mackintosh, Rob Iddiols, Niamh Kennedy, Max Foster, Jorge Engels and Chris Liakos contributed reporting.

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