Key questions as European Court of Human Rights grounds first Rwanda flight

The plane was scheduled to depart the UK on Tuesday night.

15 June 2022

The first deportation flight of migrants to Rwanda was cancelled at the last minute on Tuesday night following interventions from the European Court of Human Rights.

Here, the PA news agency looks at key questions surrounding the European Court and how it relates to the UK and this case.

– What is the European Court of Human Rights?

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959 to rule on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Its judgments are binding on the 46 Council of Europe member states that have ratified the Convention.

– What is the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Union?

The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation, while the European Union is an economic and political partnership.

While Brexit represented the UK’s departure from the European Union, it is still a member of the Council of Europe and therefore remains beholden to the European Court and European Convention on Human Rights.

Migrant Crisis
Protesters at the perimeter of MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, where a Boeing 767 aircraft was believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– What is the European Convention on Human Rights?

The European Convention on Human Rights was developed amid World War Two to ensure that governments would never again be allowed to dehumanise and abuse people’s rights with impunity.

It came into full effect in 1953 and intends to serve as a simple and flexible roundup of universal rights, which could be adapted over time.

Articles listed in the Convention include the right to a fair trial, right to liberty and security, and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

– Why did the European Court of Human Rights intervene in the Rwanda flight?

The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that it had granted an urgent interim measure in regards to an Iraqi national, and it is understood the Court was considering a number of further requests.

PA understands that the appeals were considered by an out-of-hours judge on papers, overruling the UK rulings.

National Security Bill
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said preparation for the next flight ‘begin now’ (Danny Lawson/PA)

It is understood that, at the present time, there is not a route for the Home Office to appeal against the decision.

The European Court has indicated to the UK Government that the Iraqi national should not be removed to Rwanda until three weeks after the delivery of the final domestic decision in his ongoing judicial review proceedings.

– How does the European Convention relate to the UK’s Human Rights Act?

The UK was the very first nation to ratify the convention in March of 1951.

The Human Rights Act of 1998 enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, allowing the rights guaranteed by the Convention to be enforced in UK courts.

However, the Government has vowed to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights, after a pledge to reform human rights laws was included in the Tory manifesto in 2019.

Migrant Crisis
The Hallmark Residences Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, where it is believed migrants from the UK are expected to be taken when they arrive (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Government said the changes will strengthen “freedom of speech” and bring “proper balance” between the rights of individuals and effective politics.

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