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Migrants held for Rwanda deportation flights get bail: lawyers

By AFP
Rwanda Protesters in the UK last month tried to stop the removal of some migrants from temporary accommodation.  By HENRY NICHOLLS (AFP)
WED, 12 JUN 2024 LISTEN
Protesters in the UK last month tried to stop the removal of some migrants from temporary accommodation. By HENRY NICHOLLS (AFP)

Dozens of migrants detained by UK police before the start of controversial deportation flights to Rwanda have been released on bail, lawyers said on Wednesday.

The government said last month it had detained an unspecified number of migrants after lawmakers ended months of parliamentary wrangling and passed a law allowing some asylum seekers to be deported.

But after calling a general election for July 4, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded that deportations would only take place "after the election" if he was re-elected.

The main opposition Labour party has pledged to scrap the scheme if it wins.

"We represent 50 of those detainees and can confirm that they all now have bail," Duncan Lewis Solicitors said on X, formerly Twitter.

The firm said a tribunal had "rightly assessed them to not carry a risk of absconding, reaching the rational view that removal was not imminent".

Protesters in early May tried to stop the removal of some migrants from their temporary accommodation.

The government said at the time it expected the first deportation flights to Rwanda to take off between July 1 and 15.

But the lawyers said "removal was not imminent at the time of detention and certainly not imminent after the prime minister's announcement calling for a general election".

"The detrimental impact that unnecessary and prolonged detention has had on our vulnerable clients is yet to be fully assessed," the firm added.

The decision to detain the migrants followed new legislation that circumvented a Supreme Court ruling last year that said sending migrants to Rwanda in this way would be illegal because it "would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment".

Rwanda, home to 13 million people in Africa's Great Lakes region, claims to be one of the most stable countries on the continent and has drawn praise for its modern infrastructure.

But rights groups accuse veteran President Paul Kagame of ruling in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and free speech.

The UK's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is designed to cut numbers trying to cross the Channel from France.  By Sameer Al-DOUMY (AFP) The UK's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is designed to cut numbers trying to cross the Channel from France. By Sameer Al-DOUMY (AFP)

Sunak's ruling Conservatives have argued the threat of being deported to Rwanda will deter tens of thousands of annual cross-Channel arrivals by small boats, and insist the policy is already having an impact.

More than 10,000 irregular migrants have crossed the Channel to Britain on small boats this year, according to latest government data.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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