Business Maverick

Business Maverick

UK cautions ECHR on migration before Rwanda deportation flights

UK cautions ECHR on migration before Rwanda deportation flights
A migrant waves while crossing the English Channel on a small boat, on 6 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE/TOLGA AKMEN)

The UK will caution the European Court of Human Rights not to overstep its role, as Rishi Sunak’s government prepares to begin its controversial plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Minister for Europe Nusrat Ghani will call for coordinated action to tackle illegal migration at a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday. Her office said she will emphasise the importance of the ECHR adhering to to its promise only to issue injunctions against deportations in “exceptional circumstances” and if there is a “risk of irreparable harm”.

Sunak finally got his Rwanda Bill through Parliament last month and aims to deport the first asylum-seekers to the African nation in July. The legislation allows ministers to waive some elements of international human rights law in the UK, though it stopped short of disapplying the European Convention on Human Rights which the court in Strasbourg administers.

Though some politicians on the right of the Conservative Party would likely relish a showdown with the court on the deportations, Sunak himself has said he regards the Rwanda plan as consistent with the UK’s international commitments.

“In a more contested and volatile world, we must out-compete and out-cooperate those who would seek to destroy that stability and undermine our democracies and freedom,” Ghani will say, according to her office.

Ministers argue that a 36% decline in migrants arriving in small boats across the English Channel last year demonstrates the deterrent effect of the Rwanda policy. But Home Office data now shows crossings rose to a record 7,657 migrants in the first four months of 2024. That’s an increase of more than a quarter on the same period last year, and 14% more than the record levels registered in 2022.

Ghani will meet the heads of the European institutions to discuss the migration crisis, as well as support for Ukraine and risks linked to artificial intelligence.

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