Rwanda scheme doubts after Northern Ireland court ruling

Rwanda scheme doubts after Northern Ireland court ruling

The UK government’s controversial Rwanda scheme is in question after a court ruled that legislation providing for the deportation of asylum seekers cannot be enforced in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s High Court yesterday ruled that certain provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 constitute a diminution of rights in breach of post-Brexit rules and are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Two challenges were brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and a 16-year-old asylum seeker from Iran who arrived by small boat into Kent and was transferred to Northern Ireland by the Home Office.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) interim leader Gavin Robinson has said the ruling could “make Northern Ireland a magnet for asylum seekers seeking to escape enforcement”.

The UK government has indicated that it will appeal the ruling as it does not agree the post-Brexit Windsor Framework should apply to immigration law, though it has not explained why.

Sinead Marmion, head of immigration and asylum at Phoenix Law and solicitor for the 16-year-old applicant, JR295, said: “The Good Friday Agreement has always been a beacon of human rights protections and hope. Today, the court, through the Northern Ireland Protocol, has ensured those rights apply to the whole community — including asylum seekers.

“This runs contrary to the negative and toxic rhetoric peddled by the government against those seeking international protection.

“This judgment sends a clear message to the government. Not only will asylum seekers be welcome in Northern Ireland, but they will also be legally protected.

“Today marks the beginning of the end of the British government’s flagship campaign to enact illegal and immoral laws with the sole purpose of frustrating and demolishing international human rights protections.”

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