A decision on a legal challenge to the government’s controversial Rwanda deportation policy has been delayed until September – with the Home Office refusing to say if it will still attempt removals flights in the meantime.
In what they said was a win for due process and fairness, charities taking the government to court over the scheme say the Divisional Court has granted an application to adjourn the case for several weeks.
Detention Action said no forced removals flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda should take place until the court makes a decision.
But the Home Office said it remains “determined” to deliver the policy and is “ready to defend” it in the courts.
Lawyers for the groups taking the action have argued the policy puts people’s lives at risk and is an unlawful way to treat asylum seekers prior to deportation and once sent to Rwanda.
The government’s attempt to fly the first group of asylum seekers to the central African nation last month was halted by judges at the 11th hour and has led threats by ministers that the UK could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “The Rwanda plan is brutal. We are currently working with more than 20 people who have been detained and issued with Rwanda notices since the last court case, and many of those from last time remain detained, exhausted and alone, and terrified for what the future might bring.
“These people have suffered some of the very worst things that can happen on this planet. They have appalling physical and mental scars, and now face the threat of further extreme trauma.
“We have been overwhelmed by the public support we have received so far but it’s essential that we keep the pressure up. We only have seven weeks until we will be in court to fight against this cruel plan.”
The Rwanda scheme was announced on 14 April against a background of the Home Office’s failure to stem the flow of people crossing the English Channel on small boats.
Tougher border controls at the Eurotunnel and at ferry ports have seen numbers of people risking their lives crossing in dinghies soar – though the increase has not necessarily been reflected in total asylum applications.
More than 7,000 people have reached the UK aboard small boats since Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the Rwanda policy, according to data compiled by Sky News.
Read more: Why are people being sent to Rwanda and how will it work?
It comes as Border Force staff prepare for up to 60,000 people – double the amount from last year – to arrive on British shores in 2022.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system.
“We have been clear from the start that we expected legal challenges however we are determined to deliver this new partnership.
“This is vital to prevent loss of life in the Channel and break the business model of people smugglers. No court has actually ruled that this partnership is unlawful and we are ready to defend the partnership in the courts.”