Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rwanda deportations: what is the European Court of Human Rights, and why did it stop the British flight from taking off?

A flight hired to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda as part of a new government policy is based on an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The plan to deport asylum seekers for processing in Rwanda is intended, the government says, to deter people from making the dangerous journey across the Channel to the UK. This first flight would take off on June 14 with only seven passengers on board. There were more due to flying, but legal action made it possible to remove them.

This decision has already provoked a very negative reaction from the British government, which says that plans for future flights are already underway.

The EHRM has issued specific interim measures ordering the British authorities not to remove any of the asylum seekers for three weeks after the final decision of court proceedings pending in the UK. This in turn caused national legal mechanisms that prevented the other six from flying to Rwanda. Although the indicated measures are temporary, the EHRM may choose to extend them.

Home Affairs Minister Priti Patel pointed out in parliament that the court had not declared the Rwanda deportation plan illegal. That’s right – the EHRM did not make such a determination. At this stage, it only stated that the national and European courts should be given more time to decide this case properly. However, if the UK were to deport the person concerned before the ECHR measures expired or were repealed, it would then be in breach of international law.

What is the EHRM?

The EHRM is a Strasbourg-based human rights court that deals with compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. It can make legally binding judgments when the human rights of any person are violated under the power of any of its member states – including right to life, prohibition of torture, right to privacy and others. The court is not affiliated with the European Union, and after Brexit the UK remains a member.

The court usually deals with offenses that take place on the territory of the Member State, but with exceptions. Deportation is one such exception – the court can prevent the deportation of a person who is at risk of being tortured in the receiving country. This is a well-established principle of human rights law.

Normally, victims apply to the EHRM after the alleged offense has already taken place. However, in some cases when the situation persists, the court may order authorities to take action to prevent irreparable damage. When it comes to deportation, the logic is that removing a person from a state that abides by the European Convention on Human Rights to one that does not make it very difficult to ensure that their rights will be properly protected.

In this case, the court cited concerns raised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that asylum seekers who moved to Rwanda as part of the plan would not have access to “fair and efficient procedures” related to their refugee status claims. not. There was no guarantee that they would be able to return from Rwanda to the UK to take part in future court proceedings relating to their case.

Interim measures such as these are legally binding on states, but they are issued only in extreme and rare cases to prevent serious harm. The court’s interim measures were instrumental in rescuing Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny when he was poisoned in Russia. Interim measures are usually used when there is a threat of extradition or deportation to the country where the victims may be abused.

A Group Of People, Mostly Men, In Red Life Jackets Coming Ashore At Dover Harbor.
The Rwandan asylum plan aims to deter migrants from crossing the Channel in small boats by placing them on a one-way flight to Rwanda.
Stuart Brock / EPA-EFE

What’s next?

Both Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have stated they will not withdraw from the Rwanda deportation plan. This probably means that the British authorities are considering withdrawing completely from the European Convention on Human Rights. This is something the government has been discussing for some time.

Although no state has withdrawn from the convention in the last 50 years, if the UK did, it would follow in the footsteps of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which ceases to be a party to the European Convention this year. Before Russia, the last withdrawal was Greece, which did so temporarily under the rule of a military junta in 1967. These are hardly good examples to follow.

The UK helped build the Strasbourg system of human rights protection after World War II and continued to support it. Hopefully it will not be the one that destroys it.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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