LONDON (Dispatches) — The British government vowed Wednesday to organize more flights to deport asylum-seekers from around the world to Rwanda, after a last-minute court judgment grounded the first plane due to take off under the contentious policy.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said”preparation for the next flight begins now” despite legal rulings that none of the migrants earmarked for deportation could be sent to the East African country.
“We will not be put off by the inevitable legal last-minute challenges,” Patel told lawmakers.
Under a deal signed in April, Britain plans to send some migrants from countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria who arrive illegally in Britain as stowaways or in small boats to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be processed. If successful, they will stay in the African country, rather than returning to Britain.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government says the plan is a legitimate way to protect lives and thwart the criminal gangs that send migrants on risky journeys from France across the English Channel.
Human rights groups argue that the plan rides roughshod over the protections afforded to refugees under rules set up after World War II. They have called the idea inhumane and a waste of money. Britain paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($150 million) up front for the deal.
British courts refused last week to ground the first flight, scheduled for Tuesday, but the number due to be aboard was whittled down by appeals and legal challenges, from 37 last week to seven on Tuesday.
Then the European Court of Human Rights, an international tribunal supported by 46 countries, including Britain, ruled late Tuesday that an Iraqi man due to be on the plane shouldn’t fly, saying he faced “a real risk of irreversible harm.” That judgment allowed the final few migrants on the plane to win a reprieve from British judges with minutes to spare, and the government canceled the then-empty flight.
And also Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has called the forced deportation of asylum seekers from UK to Rwanda ‘a historic shame’ for British government.
Khatibzadeh reacted to the forcibly deportation of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda and the news about Iranian citizenship of some of these asylum seekers, stating that what is happening is a historical shame for UK government and all those who have made their utmost efforts to cover up their colonial history.
Forced deportation and transfer of asylum seekers to the third countries and silence of countries as claimants of human rights and responsible international bodies are a source of shame and a clear violation of refugee rights, Khatibzadeh underlined.
What is happening is on the other side of the coin of deception and systematic media propaganda against Iran, he said, adding that Persian-language media based in London, with presenting an engineered and unrealistic image of Iran from inside the country and a more unrealistic dream of living in Europe, pave the way for dangerous departure of some Iranian citizens.
Accordingly, the government of Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes, within the framework of its sovereign duties, that rights of these individuals must be respected under 1951 Convention and the relevant protocol and their deportation to third countries is a dangerous procedure, he stated.
As Iran, despite all hardships and economic pressures, is hosting millions of citizens from other countries, including Afghanistan, it is a matter of regret that claimants of human rights cannot tolerate to receive some thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, Khatibzadeh criticized.
More than 28,000 migrants entered Britain last year by crossing the English Channel, up from 8,500 in 2020. About 10,000 have arrived so far this year. Dozens have died while attempting the trip, including 27 people in November when a boat capsized.