UK: deportation flights to Rwanda stopped

The departure of the first deportation flight from the UK to Rwanda has been stopped at the last minute by the European Court of Human Rights. British Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Tuesday evening that she was disappointed by the court's decision and vowed to continue pursuing her controversial refugee policy. Looking at the commentaries, it seems clear that the ruling will not put a stop to such practices.

Open/close all quotes
Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

British model a solution despite flaws

The EU should keep its borders open when there is a conflict in a neighbouring region, as is now the case in Ukraine, Göteborgs-Posten says, but adds:

“After that, however, Europe cannot accept a huge influx of asylum seekers from around the world. That would be socially unsustainable, and there is nothing morally questionable about outsourcing the processing of asylum applications to African countries, for example, as long as they're reasonably stable and the process can be carried out in a legally safe manner. The EU has every reason to study the British model and see how it can be tailored to its own needs.” (ES) /

Europeans no longer care about humanitarianism fears that this way of dealing with asylum seekers could become the norm:

“In several European states there are many voters who want their country to get rid of foreigners and don't penalise parties at the ballot box if this is done illegally and in violation of existing agreements. This attitude also makes things very difficult for neighbouring countries like France and Belgium that continue to respect human rights, because it means that the number of asylum seekers within their borders would increase. If they fell into the trap of doing the same, we would see a chain reaction. We have reached a situation where a high percentage of Europeans no longer care about humanitarianism or fundamental rights - or the commitments made by their states.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Nothing compared to the EU's crimes

The UK's Rwanda scheme is not the worst in terms of European cruelty towards refugees, the taz underlines:

“Denmark is also trying to outsource its deportation detention facilities to Kosovo and is also in negotiations with African states about setting up reception centres for asylum seekers there. And this year alone, the Libyan coast guard deployed by the EU has stopped around 8,000 people just before they reached European waters and sent them back to torture camps in Libya. In the past six years over 80,000 people have been carted back to Libya. In terms of both disenfranchisement and the brutal methods used, this strategy of fending off refugees clearly dwarfs the London plan.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Relying only on deterrence

Johnson's government has no interest in finding an adequate strategy, Mediapart complains:

“Of course the energy and time spent on drawing up these plans could also have been put into developing a proper admission policy or genuinely safe legal routes, as experts have advised in order to limit the risks taken by migrants on their journey. The government appears to be adopting a very different strategy, however: providing a response to the more extreme tendencies of a certain section of public opinion while at the same time discouraging migrants from attempting a crossing.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Fundamental rights are being violated

The deportation flights are illegal, argues Kerry Smith of NGO Asylum Aid in The Guardian:

“This scheme is unlawful and unfair because it relies on impossible timeframes that do not offer people seeking asylum the opportunity to gain legal advice and representation or say why they shouldn't be removed. ... Among the people originally deemed suitable for removal from the UK are a former police officer from Iran who says he refused to shoot peaceful demonstrators and a survivor of torture from Sudan. ... This is what lies at the core of our case against the Home Office. The principle that people fleeing dangerous situations, human rights abuses, human trafficking or torture who seek safety in the UK should have the opportunity to present their case in a fair and lawful manner.”

The Times (GB) /

No feasible alternatives

The Times understands the move:

“The government should not be blamed for seeking a solution to the enduring problem of illegal and dangerous Channel crossings. ... It is a fair rejoinder, voiced by Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, that the critics do not offer a feasible alternative. Yet the government has not so far been able to demonstrate that its policy is either legal or workable. ... For an immigration system to work, it is crucial that people have confidence that it is neither being abused nor merely reacting to events.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Cynical and immoral

London's policy flouts international law, criticises La Libre Belgique:

“Britain is sending people who are appealing to it for protection thousands of kilometres away without even bothering to check their right to asylum. ... It's like getting rid of dust by sweeping it under the carpet. London is wiping its feet on the Geneva Convention and escorting those seeking protection towards a less prosperous country that may be a model pupil in terms of economic development but is led by a government that cares little for fundamental rights. This policy is cynical and immoral. It tramples on human dignity and international law.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Immigration cherry-picking

Corriere della Sera explains the connection with Brexit:

“The paradox is that since Brexit Britain has not been sealed off but has instead experienced an immigration boom. And while the number of arrivals from Europe has dropped, immigration from Asia and Africa has exploded. ... But the key point is that public opinion is not at all against immigration as such, but rather against the idea of open borders without controls. ... All the more so since the new wave of immigration post-Brexit consists of highly skilled professionals who make an important contribution to the British economy and society. The losers are the many desperate people fleeing war and famine.”