A UK court has refused to stop the British government’s plan to deport undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office saying that the first deportation flight would go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal in London on Monday rejected an appeal that was filed by immigration rights advocates and public employee unions.
Lawyers had launched the last-minute legal challenge, arguing that the plan undermines the “basic dignity” of people escaping war and oppression.
Activists are also separately challenging the deportations on a person-by-person basis, seeking to ensure that no migrants will be eligible for deportation even if the flights are allowed to go ahead.
The government programme aims to discourage migrants from risking their lives to reach the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats.
However, human rights groups say the policy is illegal, inhumane and will only magnify the risks for asylum seekers.
Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, has lashed out against the policy, describing it as “all wrong.”
The number of people affected by the court decision has decreased and the charity, Care4Calais said just eight of the 31 original migrants could be on the maiden flight to Rwanda.
Britain has paid Rwanda £120 million (€140 million) up front and will make additional payments based on the number of people deported abroad.
Raza Husain, a lawyer for some of the complainants, said there were serious concerns about the protection of migrant rights in Rwanda.
“[The policy] amounts to a serious interference with basic dignity … where those individuals have already suffered significant trauma and have mental health issues,” he said in the court filings on Monday.