Former justice minister doubts ‘pajama order’ will block Rwanda’s deportations

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Former justice minister doubts 'pajama order' will block Rwanda's deportations

A group of people believed to be migrants are taken by Border Force to Dover, Kent, following a minor boating incident in the Channel, April 23, 2024 (Alamy)

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Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland believes it is “highly unlikely” that European courts could again use an injunction to prevent asylum seekers from being deported from Britain to Rwanda now that the revised legislation has been passed.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill, a bill aimed at facilitating Rishi Sunak’s plans to deport asylum seekers to the East African country, was passed into law this week after weeks of back-and-forth between the Houses of Commons and the Lords.

Ultimately, colleagues backtracked on their demands for an independent commission to monitor Rwanda’s security, and an exception for people who have supported British forces abroad late on Monday night. Peers on Monday evening did not push the exemption amendment to a further vote after Epsom Home Secretary Lord Sharpe said the Government would not remove anyone to Rwanda who an investigation found has links to Afghan specialist units.

Sunak said on Monday he hoped deportation flights could start in the next 10 to 12 weeks, indicating the first asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda in the summer.

While the government is concerned that deportations could still be subject to legal challenges, Buckland, who was justice secretary for more than two years under Boris Johnson, says told PoliticsHome podcast The rundown that he would be “surprised” and “concerned” if a so-called “pajama order” were granted again.

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In the summer of 2022, the first flight to Rwanda for asylum seekers was blocked in the final hours by an order from the European Court of Human Rights under Rule 39.

These decisions are often called “pajama orders” because they can be issued late at night.

“The court has already reformed its procedures to increase the threshold at which such an order can be granted,” Buckland explained.

“I would be very surprised and concerned if that were the case, to be honest.”

The legislation, which received royal assent on Thursday, states that only a minister would have the right to decide whether or not to follow such an order from the European Court.

According to the Institute of Government There are several types of legal challenges that could be launched against the legislation, including a “constitutional challenge” to the plans as a whole, and declaring the law incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

The legislation also allows for challenges based on a person’s individual circumstances, with the Secretary of State or an immigration officer able to decide whether Rwanda would be safe for that person.

In addition to the possibility of legal challenges to deportations, some have raised concerns about the impact the bill’s passage could have on Britain’s standing on the world stage.

Comments from French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week showed he was unhappy with the British plans. In a speech on Thursday – in which he did not mention the Rwanda plan directly – he said he did not believe in “a model that some people want to implement, which means looking for a third country” […] and send our immigrants there.” He described such plans as “a betrayal” of values.

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Abdy Yeganeh, a former British diplomat for the Foreign Office and now policy director at the nonprofit Independent Diplomat, said the bill’s passage “certainly has an impact” on Britain’s reputation.

“British foreign policy has always been based on the rules-based international system and that has always been the backbone of our foreign policy approach,” he said. PoliticsHome.

“I would say that the Rwanda Bill and the internal turmoil we’ve had in Westminster has had an impact on Britain’s international standing, that’s quite clear.”

He said he has heard from others in diplomatic circles that “the way the British government is dealing with refugees and migrants” means that “it is very difficult for Britain to be really assertive in certain parts of the world.”

“For example, the issue of Rohingya refugees: more and more refugees have to flee to neighboring countries and regions to seek refuge, and the handling of their treatment is not great. Well, it is very difficult for Britain to tell them how to deal with the refugee. crisis given Britain’s handling of refugees and migrants in boats on our shores.

“It is difficult to apply such a rules-based international system piecemeal. I think there is a tangible impact there and I think it would be very difficult if there were refugee migration crises elsewhere in the world for Britain to play a very assertive, constructive role in that.”

Additional reporting by Zoe Crowther

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