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Judge asks UK Government to confirm when it plans to start Rwanda removals

28 May 2024 3 minute read
Photo issued by the Home Office of immigration officers carrying out a detention visit.

A High Court judge has asked the UK Government to confirm the earliest date it intends to start removing asylum seekers to Rwanda amid legal challenges over the policy.

The FDA trade union, which represents senior civil servants, previously said it was bringing legal action over the plans which would deport some asylum seekers to the east African nation.

The challenge had been due to be heard between June 4 and 7 after the Government told the High Court that the earliest dates individuals were expected to be removed to Rwanda was July 1-15.

Removals

However, following the announcement of the General Election, judge Mr Justice Chamberlain said the Cabinet Office and Home Office had to tell the court of the earliest date they now plan to start removals.

The order comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared to admit the Rwanda flights will not take off before the election.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on May 23, he said: “The first flights will go in July.”

Mr Sunak added: “If I’m re-elected as Prime Minister on July 5, these flights will go, we will get our Rwanda scheme up and running.”

Timetable

In the order on May 23 – published on Tuesday – Mr Justice Chamberlain said: “The timetable for this claim was set on the basis that removals to Rwanda would begin at the earliest on July 1 2024.

“The Government then changed its position, saying that removals could begin in the week commencing June 24 2024.

“Following the announcement of a General Election, the Prime Minister has said that removals will begin ‘in July’.

“That provides insufficient clarity for the purposes of timetabling this claim.”

Mr Justice Chamberlain said a response was required by May 24.

No response has yet been made public.

The court order comes after the Home Office released some migrants, who were detained for Rwanda flights, on bail, the PA news agency understands.

Freed on bail

Department officials previously refused to say how many people already being held in immigration removal centres in anticipation of flights have been freed on bail so far, or whether more are due to be released.

The order also comes after more than 10,000 migrants arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel.

Home Office figures show 51 people made the journey in one boat on Sunday, taking the provisional total for 2024 to date to 10,448, with no crossings recorded on Monday.

Crossings are up 38% on this time last year (7,558) and are 12% higher on the 9,326 recorded at this stage in 2022, PA analysis of the figures shows.


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