Migrants in Northern Ireland can’t be deported to Rwanda, High Court rules

migrants in northern ireland can’t be deported to rwanda, high court rules

Migrants crossing the Channel

Asylum seekers cannot be deported to Rwanda from Northern Ireland, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Humphreys ruled that the Government’s law allowing asylum seekers to be deported to Rwanda should be disapplied in Northern Ireland as it undermined human rights protections guaranteed in the region under post-Brexit arrangements.

The judge also said that aspects of the Illegal Migration Act were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Act, introduced last year, gives ministers powers to detain asylum seekers who have arrived illegally in the UK and deport them to a safe third country such as Rwanda.

The post-Brexit Windsor Framework jointly agreed by the UK and EU includes a stipulation that there can be no diminution of the rights provisions contained within Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement of 1998.

Mr Justice Humphreys found that several elements of the Act caused a “significant” diminution of the rights enjoyed by asylum seekers residing in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The legal challenge was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on behalf of a 16-year-old asylum seeker from Iran, who arrived in the UK from France by small boat as a child and is now living in the region.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is understood to believe the first deportation flights, due from June 24, will go ahead as planned.

“This judgment changes nothing about our operational plans to send illegal migrants to Rwanda this July or lawfulness of our illegal migration act,” said a Government source.

Immigration lawyers said the decision was “potentially very significant” but they did not believe it would affect the initial flights as the migrants earmarked for deportation on them arrived before the Illegal Migration Act got royal assent.

However, they believed it could pave the way for a legal challenge in England and Wales if and when the Government activated the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act and sought to deport them under that piece of legislation.

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