Union Challenges Government’s Rwanda Deportation Initiative in Court

Civil service union starts legal action against government over Rwanda deportation plan

Legal Battle Ensues over Asylum Seeker Deportations to Rwanda

The civil service union in the United Kingdom has launched legal action against the government over its controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The FDA union, representing civil servants, is seeking to challenge the legality of the deportation plan in court. The union is concerned that the implementation of the deportation plan might put civil servants in the position of breaching international law. The legislation enabling the plan was passed by parliament last week after extensive debates between MPs and the House of Lords.

Civil Servants Caught in a Legal Dilemma

Under the Civil Service code, government employees are obliged to comply with the law. However, the union argues that the government’s deportation plan creates a potential conflict of interest for civil servants. If instructed to carry out deportations contrary to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the civil servants could find themselves caught between the requirements of national legislation and their international legal obligations.

European Court of Human Rights Could Intervene

The ECHR has the power to intervene in the deportation process if an asylum seeker takes their case to the Strasbourg court. The court can issue a Rule 39 order directing the UK government to halt the removal of the asylum seeker. This legal mechanism previously led to the cessation of the first deportation flight to Rwanda and initiated a lengthy legal dispute in the UK. The dispute culminated with the Supreme Court ruling that Rwanda was not a safe destination for asylum seekers.

FDA Union Applies for Judicial Review

In response to these concerns, the FDA union has applied for a judicial review of the government’s deportation plan. The union’s case will initially be assessed by a High Court judge who will determine whether it can proceed. General secretary Dave Penman noted that the union had not taken the decision to pursue legal action lightly. In his view, the government could have resolved the issue by including an explicit provision in the legislation that addressed the potential conflict with international law.

Government Insists on Implementing Deportation Plan

Despite the legal challenge, the government remains committed to implementing the deportation plan. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, has stated that civil servants must follow ministerial instructions even if these contradict ECHR rulings. He has amended the guidance for civil servants to clarify this point. The Home Office has already begun detaining asylum seekers selected for deportation to Rwanda. Sunak has announced that the first deportation flight will depart in early July.

Operation Vector: A Controversial Deportation Plan

The government’s deportation plan, dubbed Operation Vector, involves the detention and removal of hundreds of asylum seekers. Some 800 officers have been assigned to the operation, which commenced earlier this week. The officers have been detaining individuals at immigration centres and at their homes. The operation will continue until all the places allocated for detainees in immigration detention centres, earmarked for deportation to Rwanda, are filled.

In conclusion, the UK government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda has sparked a significant legal dispute. The outcome of this dispute could have far-reaching implications for the rights of asylum seekers and the obligations of civil servants in the United Kingdom.