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Iraqi migrant fights deportation to Rwanda at European Court

The judicial arm of the Council of Europe has requested London to submit observations on the case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is examining the case of an Iraqi asylum seeker who is facing deportation from the UK to Rwanda under the $170 million migration agreement between London and Kigali. The court on Tuesday asked the British government to “provide observations” on the matter after receiving a “valid application” from the Iraqi national on March 15.

Referred to as NSK, the applicant was refused asylum after arriving in the English Channel in May 2022 and was notified of his deportation to Rwanda. He filed an application with the European Court, claiming that he would not have access to a fair refugee status determination process and that deportees to Rwanda faced mistreatment if they protested their conditions.

On June 14, 2022, the ECHR invoked Rule 39 of its Procedure to prevent the UK from deporting him, citing concerns about inhuman and degrading treatment in Rwanda. The court requested that the 55-year-old not be extradited until three weeks after the final domestic decision in his ongoing judicial review proceedings were delivered. The interim measure became ineffective on February 6, 2023.

Despite stiff opposition from human rights organizations and individuals, the High Court in London decided in December that the plan to deport people to Rwanda was legal. The High Court however, ruled that applications of the policy in individual cases were unlawful, and formally quashed the decisions in the successful claimants’ cases, including that of NSK.

READ MORE: Rwanda safe for refugees – London

The ECHR is asking parties to address whether the complainant, who cannot be removed until further decisions by the UK Home Secretary, can be considered a “victim,” and if his removal to Rwanda would breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

The British government has made illegal immigration a priority issue, with the deportation agreement with Rwanda being one of its key policies. UK Home Office Secretary Suella Braverman has insisted that Rwanda is a safe haven for asylum seekers, describing the “ground-breaking partnership” as a “powerful deterrent against a dangerous and illegal journey.” The country has also revealed plans to house asylum seekers in abandoned army barracks in order to reduce the cost of migrant temporary housing.

April 12, 2023 at 11:35PM

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