UK pencils in early July for first Rwanda deportationsFri, 03 May 2024 16:34:44 GMT

The UK government has told the High Court in London that it expects the first deportation flights to Rwanda to take off between July 1 and July 15, a judge said on Friday.Judge Martin Chamberlain disclosed the dates as he set a hearing for a forthcoming legal challenge to the controversial policy by the FDA union, which represents civil servants and public officials.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on April 22 that he expected the first flights to leave in “10 to 12 weeks”, but did not give an exact date.The proposed dates for the first flights coincide with the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections in Rwanda on July 15.The FDA wants a judicial review of a newly passed law that declares the east African country safe, despite a UK Supreme Court ruling that said removals were illegal.The union wants clarity about whether the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act complies with the Civil Service Code.Under the code, the UK’s politically neutral civil servants are legally obliged to “uphold the rule of law and administration of justice”.The new law allows ministers to ignore parts of domestic and international human rights law when deciding on deportations, as well as any “Rule 39″ injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights.That would create a potential conflict, the FDA argues.”Civil servants should never be left in a position where they are conflicted between the instructions of ministers and adhering to the Civil Service Code,” said FDA general secretary Dave Penman.”Yet that is exactly what the government has chosen to do,” he said on Wednesday when lodging the judicial review application.Judge Chamberlain decided that the FDA challenge would be held over one day in the first week of June.”It appears from the claim that some civil servants believe, or have been advised, that it would be contrary to their terms and conditions to comply with a ministerial decision to proceed with Rwanda removals in the face of a rule 39 measure,” he said.He added that there was “a powerful public interest in the determination of this claim in advance of the point when any rule 39 measure might be indicated”.The Conservative government’s Rwanda policy is designed to deter huge numbers of migrants trying to get across the Channel to the UK from northern France on small boats.It said this week it had begun detaining failed asylum seekers with a view to deporting them to Rwanda, sparking protests.