Politics

Raab plans law to ignore European rulings blocking Rwanda deportations

The deputy prime minister wants to introduce a Bill of Rights to ignore European Court of Human Rights judgments blocking removal flights to Rwanda.

Dominic Raab is introducing the proposed legislation, which would also increase deportations of foreign criminals, to parliament on Wednesday after the court in Strasbourg disputed the government’s heavily-criticised policy of sending asylum seekers to the east African nation.

The deputy prime minister wants the successor to the Human Rights Act to assert that British courts do not always need to follow the European Court of Human Rights.

Instead, the legislation states the Supreme Court in London is the ultimate decision-maker on human rights issues.

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The bill would create a permission stage in court where claimants must show they have suffered significant damage before their case can go ahead, in order to reduce “trivial” cases.

It would also seek to restrict the circumstances in which foreign-born people convicted of criminal offences are able to argue their right to family life trumps public safety in a bid to prevent their removal from the UK.

More on Rwanda

They would have to prove their child would come to overwhelming and unavoidable harm if they were deported.

Mr Raab, who is also justice secretary, said: “The Bill of Rights will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom whilst injecting a healthy dose of common sense into the system.

“These reforms will reinforce freedom of speech, enable us to deport more foreign offenders and better protect the public from dangerous criminals.”

He held back from the demands of some Conservative MPs to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Rwanda: What is the government scheme?

The first flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda was due to take off last week, with ministers initially expecting around 130 forced removals, but legal challenges cut down the manifest until only around seven migrants or fewer were expected to be on board.

The European court then granted an interim injunction barring the removal of an Iraqi asylum seeker until a decision on the legality of the government’s policy is made in UK courts.

Judges in Strasbourg removed two others from the plane, while the Supreme Court granted injunctions preventing the immediate removal of three more.

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Mr Raab’s legislation would confirm that interim measures from the court under so-called rule 39 are not binding on UK courts.

The bill would also seek to bolster government plans to increase the use of separation centres for extremists from legal challenges based on the right to socialise.

The Ministry of Justice said it would also boost press freedom by introducing a stronger test for courts to consider before ordering journalists to disclose their sources.

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