Raab has plan to ignore European judges’ future injunctions after Rwanda row

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said interim orders like those used to ground the Rwanda flight should not be “legally binding” under UK law.

16 June 2022

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights were wrong to grant the injunction that effectively grounded a flight sending asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, Dominic Raab said.

The Justice Secretary said: “I don’t think that either in this case or in general it is right for the Strasbourg court to assume a power of injunction and then apply it.”

The court granted last-minute interim measures covering three people who had been due to be on the first flight to Rwanda on Tuesday night.

The row has led to calls from some Tory MPs to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the document interpreted by the court in Strasbourg – something which No 10 and Attorney General Suella Braverman have not ruled out, although it appears unlikely the Government would want to take such a drastic step.

The Justice Secretary said the UK would stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

The Government plans to replace the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the ECHR in domestic law, with a new Bill of Rights.

Mr Raab told Times Radio: “In relation to the latest intervention from Strasbourg, so-called Rule 39 interim orders, which are not grounded in the European Convention, they’re based on the rules and procedure, internal rules of the court.

“I certainly believe they should not have a legally binding effect under UK law.”

Mr Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the decision strengthened the case for reform of human rights laws.

Asked if the UK could simply ignore the European court’s ruling, Mr Raab said: “Not under the Human Rights Act, but we will address this squarely with the Bill of Rights.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “We are going to stay within the convention but make sure the procedural framework is reformed.”

The Government will “curtail” the ability of foreign offenders to claim a right to family life as a reason for being refused deportation and “we will stop and change the ability of the Strasbourg court to issue what amounts to effective injunction when they have no power, grounded in the European Convention, to do so”.

The flight to Rwanda was grounded following a series of legal challenges in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the asylum seekers due to be sent on the one-way trip to Rwanda.

The court battles mean there is uncertainty over when any further attempts to fly asylum seekers to the African country will be made, although Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government “will not be deterred from doing the right thing, we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.

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