Before the first removal flight planned to fly on Tuesday, London’s courts will hear two last-minute legal challenges to the British government’s contentious policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Rwanda and the United Kingdom have agreed to send certain asylum seekers to Rwanda in exchange for a payment of 120 million pounds ($148 million).
The deportation strategy is aimed at undermining people-smuggling networks, and stemming the flow of migrants risking their lives by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe.
At least 30 individuals are scheduled to be removed on the first flight to Rwanda. The government has not provided details of those selected for deportation, but charities say they include people fleeing Afghanistan and Syria.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to press ahead with the policy despite the legal challenges and the alleged opposition from Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.
The Court of Appeal will hear arguments from two human rights groups and a trade union on Monday after a judge refused their request for an injunction blocking the flight taking off. The judge said last week there was a “material public interest” in allowing the government to pursue the policy.
The High Court will separately hear arguments from Asylum Aid, a refugee charity, which launched a second legal challenge to stop the government flying refugees to Rwanda.
The charity said the government’s plan to give asylum seekers seven days to obtain legal advice and to present their case to avoid deportation is flawed and unfair.
This case will be heard by the same judge who on Friday rejected the first request for an injunction.
Over the weekend, Prince Charles was reported by The Times newspaper to have privately described the government’s policy as “appalling”.
A spokesperson for Charles did not deny he had expressed personal opinions about the policy, but stressed that he remains “politically neutral”.
Under Britain’s unwritten constitution, the royal family are expected to avoid making political comments.