London, Jun 14 (EFE).- The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued an injunction Tuesday blocking the first flight carrying asylum seekers from the United Kingdom to Rwanda, but the government of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it plans to push ahead with the controversial plan.
“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s flight was unable to depart,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
“It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts,” she said.
The people due to be deported were already aboard the plane, which was due to take off from a Royal Air Force base in southwestern England, when the news arrived that the ECHR had granted an injunction in the case of a 54-year-old Iraqi man.
The Iraqi, identified only as K.N., “should not be removed until the expiry of a period of three weeks following the delivery of the final domestic decision in the ongoing judicial review proceedings.”
Earlier Tuesday, Johnson defended the plan to deport asylum seekers to processing centers in Rwanda and said his government would not be “deterred or abashed” from pursuing the policy.
“We are not going to be in any way deterred or abashed by some of the criticism that is being directed upon this policy – some of it from slightly unexpected quarters,” he said.
The prime minister said that deporting newly arrived asylum seekers so that their paperwork can be processed in Rwanda was the only way to combat the surge in criminal gangs that organize illegal sea crossings from France to England.
“The objective is to ensure that we make that clear distinction, that I think everybody can see is fair and reasonable, between legal immigration to this country by safe and legal routes, which we support and uphold and protect because we all understand the benefits that it brings, and distinguishing that from dangerous and illegal cross-Channel migration which we intend to stop,” Johnson told lawmakers.
On Monday the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by two NGOs to veto the flight and upheld a High Court ruling that it could go ahead.
The Rwanda policy has sparked fury among opposition leaders and other high-profile figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who published a damning piece in The Times newspaper.
According to accounts in The Times and the Daily Mail, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, has also privately criticized Johnson’s Rwanda policy. EFE er-jm/ch/jt/dr