UK-Rwanda: European court to weigh complaint against asylum plan

UK-Rwanda: European court to weigh complaint against asylum plan
Europe's top court said it will examine the case of an Iraqi asylum seeker who has been threatened by British authorities with deportation to Rwanda.
2 min read
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has championed the Rwanda scheme [source: Getty]

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said on Tuesday it will examine the application of an Iraqi asylum seeker threatened with deportation from Britain to Rwanda under a fiercely controversial deal, after temporarily blocking his expulsion.

It comes as Britain's Conservative government reacts to public concern over people arriving via regular routes with increasingly stringent measures, including a new immigration bill that would outlaw their asylum claims.

The European court - an arm of the 46-member Council of Europe - said it had sent questions on the case to both the UK government and the Iraqi complainant, named only as N.S.K.

This is a procedural step that comes before the judges' decision on whether they will hear the case in court.

The Iraqi, born in 1968, left his home country in 2022, ultimately reaching Britain by boat, where he claimed asylum.

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London denied his claim and said he would be deported to Rwanda, under an April 2022 pact with Kigali to relocate people arriving in the UK illegally to the central African country.

British courts refused his attempts to delay his expulsion, but the ECHR stepped in.

The European court said N.S.K. must be allowed to stay until a judicial review of the scheme prompted by his complaint was completed, as there was no guarantee he could be returned from Rwanda if it was found he had been sent there unlawfully.

Two other people's deportations were also temporarily postponed by the court, using so-called interim measures which outraged London.

N.S.K. says his deportation would infringe his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects against torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

He fears losing access to a proper examination of his claim to be a refugee if he is deported, as well as fearing detention and mistreatment should he complain about his conditions once in Rwanda.

Despite the tough measures from London, the number of people arriving by small boats in the UK reached new heights last year, at more than 45,000 compared with 28,526 in 2021.

Britain's High Court in December said the Rwanda deportation scheme was legal, although an appeal is pending.

The UK is obliged to abide by ECHR rulings through its membership of the Council of Europe, an entirely separate entity from the EU.