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UK judges could block plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, Raab admits

UK judges could block plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, Raab admits
‘I don’t quite know what the courts are going to decide,’ deputy prime minister says – refusing to commit to any flights taking off this year

UK judges could rule that deporting asylum seekers para Rwanda is unlawful, Dominic Raab has admitted – as he refused to say any flights will take off this year.

Ministers have attacked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) para preventing the first flight on Tuesday night, insisting they have the domestic legal powers they need to act.

But Mr Raab acknowledged a full High Court judicial review, in late July, could also thwart the policy after the government declined to pass fresh legislation to authorise it.

He was asked whether he would be prepared to stake his professional reputation on pledging that at least one asylum seeker will be taken to Rwanda by the end of this year.

"Nós vamos, I don’t quite know what the courts are going to decide on the main hearing,” the deputy prime minister told LBC Radio.

The comment came as Mr Raab appeared to squash No 10 hints it might pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights, dizendo: “We are going to stay within the convention.” However, the official spokesperson for the prime minister, Boris Johnson, later said: “It is fair to say we have not made a final decision on next steps.”

The spokesperson reiterated the government’s position that continued crossings of the English Channel in small boats showed that the “current approach is broken and that we need to take new steps in order to find a long-term solution for a problem that others have tried to fix but have not been successful so far”.

Quase 50 people were brought ashore on Border Force ship Hurricane after rescues in the Channel on Thursday. Eighteen people – including children – were brought ashore in the morning, with approximately 30 pessoas, including young children, rescued in the afternoon.

Sr. Raab disse his new Bill of Rights – overhauling the Human Rights Act – would seek to prevent a repeat of Tuesday night’s embarrassment, by curbing the Strasbourg court’s powers to act immediately.

Mr Raab accused it of wrongly using a power of injunction, dizendo: “Our Bill of Rights will correct that and I think it’s the right thing to do.”

His caution on future flights is in stark contrast to the immediate aftermath of the ECHR ruling, which saw ministers express confidence that the policy will go ahead.

It is now thought unlikely that further deportation attempts – at an estimated cost of £500,000 per flight – will be made until the legal position is settled.

The judicial review was launched by the Public and Commercial Services Union, the charity Care4Calais and the pressure group Detention Action, along with four asylum seekers facing removal.

It will decide whether the policy “is lawful or not”, the government having been forced to bring back any asylum seekers wrongly deported if it loses the case.

Vowing to shake up UK compliance with the ECHR – while staying within it – Mr Raab pointed to “Rule 39 interim orders” arguing they “should not have a legally binding effect under UK law”.

“We are going to stay within the convention, but make sure the procedural framework is reformed,” he told BBC Radio 4.

Contudo, experts have warned the tactic of watering down human rights obligations could backfire by triggering sanctions from the EU.

The bill is expected to remove the need for UK courts to follow wider decisions made by the ECHR, despite commitments made in the Brexi withdrawal agreement.

The EU was seen as securing a victory in “locking in” the UK’s future actions – not least to protect the Acordo de Sexta Feira Santa in Northern Ireland – with the ability to re-examine security cooperation if this is flouted.