The British government’s first attempt to deport up to 130 refugees to Rwanda was met with legal and direct action and ended in failure on 14 June.
After several lawyers had successfully appealed against the deportation of their clients, the government had only seven refugees listed to fly out of Gatwick airport.
In the late afternoon, a newly-formed direct action group called Stop Deportations lay down in the road outside Colnbrook immigration removal centre, creating a blockade using lock-ons, to stop refugees being put on the Rwanda flight. They reported later on Twitter that 18 of their activists were arrested.
Two hours before the flight was due to take off, the European court of human rights issued an order that one of the remaining seven should not be deported. The other refugees made similar claims and the flight was cancelled.
The UK government has paid the Rwandan government £120m to accept refugees who’ve crossed the Channel from France to Britain in small boats. On top of this, the UK is also paying for the refugees’ flights to Rwanda and for their ’ housing and maintenance there. The refugees will not be permitted to apply for asylum in the UK; they will be permanently deported to Rwanda.
A judicial review of this policy will be heard on 5 September (see p24 for full details). It has been called for by the civil servants’ union PCS, to which many immigration officials belong, and Care4Calais, Detention Action and four asylum-seekers facing removal to Rwanda.
Both the remaining candidates for prime minister in the Conservative party election process enthusiastically support the Rwanda deportation policy.