ECHR President Says Rwanda Policy Likely Breaches International Law
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the UK has a “clear obligation” to comply with its rulings on halting deportation flights to Rwanda.
ECHR President Róbert Spanó stated that Britain must adhere to interim ‘rule 39’ measures, which compel countries to stop removals if there is “imminent risk of irreparable damage” to the people involved. His comments come amid an escalating battle between the UK government and human rights lawyers seeking to block the first deportation flight expected in the coming weeks.
Spanó said the court would use its “authority and legal powers” to ensure Britain respects its judgments. However, Downing Street remains defiant, insisting the policy is lawful despite claims it breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.
Sunak Prepared To Override ECHR Injunctions
Government sources said Rishi Sunak is ready to ignore any last-minute legal challenges that ground flights, even if they come directly from Strasbourg judges.
No.10 believes European judges have overreached by seeking to determine sovereign immigration policies. Sunak is seeking urgent reforms to curb the ECHR’s influence over British laws.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson said: “We believe that the ECHR should not have outright power to control immigration policy… the UK has a long tradition of liberty and protecting vulnerable people, and our Rwanda policy aims to break the business model of criminal gangs while offering people safe and legal routes to settle here.”
Immigration Minister Defends Rwanda Scheme “Value For Money”
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has vigorously defended the Rwanda policy as lawful and value for money. He claimed Left-wing lawyers and “highly politicised” charities were abusing the system to frustrate the national interest.
“The British public are rightly outraged by daily images of small boats arriving… The system is dysfunctional and overhaul is urgently needed,” said Jenrick.
He confirmed that £140 million has been earmarked for deportation costs over the next few years – equivalent to over £30,000 per person removed. Jenrick claimed this would save money long-term by deterring thousands more crossings.
Critics argued that accommodating asylum seekers in African camps would be exorbitantly expensive and inhumane. Government feasibility reports about Rwanda have not yet been published.
European Judges “Plunging Taxpayer Costs Even Higher” Says Patel
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel unleashed a scathing attack against ECHR judges, who she accused of “defending the indefensible and preventing the British government from controlling its borders”.
In an opinion piece, Patel wrote: “Unelected Eurocrats continually thwarting deportations – despite not knowing the facts – will now waste more taxpayers money on needless legal challenges… blocking flights to Rwanda is perverse when millions face starvation there.”
Table A shows a breakdown of the spiraling costs to UK taxpayers from the small boats crisis:
|Illegal Migration Handling Teams
|£5.6 million per day
|Legal Fees Contesting Deportations
|Total Annual Cost
Patel said European judges were plunging costs and migrant numbers even higher by obstructing removals. Charities countered that the figures reflect rescuing vulnerable people rather than wasted expenditure.
Rwanda Camp Conditions Condemned As Inhumane
Human rights groups and asylum seeker support charities have raised urgent concerns about dire living conditions within Rwanda’s refugee camps. Photos leaked to British newspapers show tightly crowded accommodation pods without running water or washing facilities.
A young Syrian man due to fly to Rwanda said “I might as well have stayed to be shot at in Aleppo… at least I would die quickly instead of wasting away forgotten by the world.”
Others highlighted an information blackout making it impossible to verify Rwandan safety assurances. They feared removed asylum seekers could disappear into abusive detention sites without legal protections.
A coalition of church groups and aid agencies wrote to Rishi Sunak urging him to abandon the policy on ethical grounds. Their joint statement said: “We plead with the government to open their hearts, show compassion and protect the world’s most vulnerable refugees.”
Public Opinion Sharply Divided On Rwanda Flights
The British public remains intensely split over whether removing Channel migrants to Rwanda is right.
A narrow majority (52%) back the scheme as a deterrent against dangerous small boat crossings. Support is significantly higher among Conservative voters (72%).
However, two-thirds (68%) fear that deportations could spark a backlash and riots across overcrowded asylum camps this summer.
There are also regional divides, with majority opposition in London and Scotland compared to small majorities in favor elsewhere. Overall public attitudes are nuanced – many are frustrated by chaotic borders but uneasy about Rwanda’s human rights record.
What Next For Sunak’s Rwanda Policy Battle?
All eyes will be on whether Rishi Sunak proceeds with forcible deportations against ECHR interim orders. Government sources indicate the first flight could depart in late March.
Hardline Tory backbenchers are urging an all-out political war to curb Strasbourg’s powers using new UK legislation. However, Sunak worries this could spark a massive showdown risking withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights altogether.
Senior lawyers have warned that open defiance of legally binding injunctions could topple Britain into a constitutional crisis. But ministers believe drastic action is needed to resolve the Channel crossings emergency besieging the Home Office.
For now, the government is keeping plans closely guarded. Migrants, lawyers and human rights groups anxiously await news on whether Rwanda flights will go ahead, potentially setting legal precedents worldwide. Few expect this bitter struggle over ethics, legality and immigration control to conclude anytime soon.
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