Asylum seeker on Rwanda flight would 'never have come to the UK'

Asylum seeker on board Rwanda flight says he would ‘never have come to the UK’ if he had known about the deportation policy

  • Iraqi, known as KN, wants to be released from detention and stay in the UK
  • He claims to have been trafficked from Turkey to France and then into cross-Channel dinghy
  • He said: ‘If I had known about this whole [Rwanda] plan I would have never come’
  • Inaugural flight to east Africa was cancelled at the 11th hour by Euro judges 
  • The intervention has sparked a row over the ECHR’s meddling in UK affairs 

An Iraqi asylum seeker due to fly to Rwanda before the European Court of Human Rights grounded the plane today revealed that he ‘would have never come to the UK’ if he had known he might be deported to east Africa.

The man, known only as KN, hopes he will now stay in Britain after the 11th hour reprieve at MoD Boscombe Down, declaring: ‘I have the right to have a better life’.

He was one of seven men including more Iraqis, an Iranian, a Vietnamese and an Albanian, who were due to be deported on Tuesday until an unnamed out-of-hours Strasbourg judge stepped in to overrule British judges who hours earlier had said the Rwanda flight could go ahead.

Speaking through an interpreter he described his detention centre near London as ‘like a prison’ and revealed that he was among the thousands of migrants who came to Britain by dinghy in recent years.

But he said he had ‘absolutely no idea’ that anyone entering the UK illegally could face deportation to Rwanda under Priti Patel’s landmark policy.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: ‘If I had known about this whole plan I would have never decided to come to the UK.

‘The thing is that during the past six months, because I was in hiding, I was completely disconnected from the news and the outside world – so I had no idea what was going on. I was just desperately trying to get my way out for my safety.’

The Iraqi asylum seeker who was due to deported to Rwanda today revealed that he would never have come to the UK if he’d known about the policy – but he wants to stay in Britain

The man, known only as KN, arrived in Britain by dinghy from France after paying people smugglers in Turkey to take him across Europe in the back of a lorry

He claims to have come to Britain after being a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who fought with UK soldiers in Iraq in 2004.

KN then claims to have fled across the border to Turkey, who then paid people smugglers to transport him by lorry to northern France before crossing the Channel by dinghy.

It has not been revealed when he arrived in Britain, but he claims that he was totally shocked that he may be sent to Rwanda.

He said he called his children in Iraq and said: ‘They were crying, I was crying too.’ And when he was put on the plane he claims he was ‘extremely mistreated’ by staff, adding: ‘I could barely breathe. At some point I collapsed. My hands and my knees were completely numb’.

Security guards reportedly  ‘hugged and congratulated’ migrants onboard Priti Patel’s first deportation flight to Rwanda after it was blocked by European judges.

KN said that when he was told at 10pm – 30 minutes before take-off: ‘I started crying. I told them I’m just crying for the others who were inside the plane and destined for Rwanda, because those people are helpless, are desperate just like me – they have families to support’.

He added: ‘I’m still under shock but they are refusing to let me out of this place they are keeping us’. 

The Home Secretary’s inaugural removal flight to east Africa was cancelled shortly before it was due to take off on Tuesday following the 11th-hour intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – despite the Supreme Court’s green light.

Mohammed, an Iranian Kurd who was being held in Colbrook removal centre near Heathrow, claimed guards onboard the private charter jet due to take off from MoD Boscombe Down celebrated upon hearing that the flight had been cancelled.

‘Some of the security guards and others were actually happy. They were hugging us. They were congratulating us,’ he told The Independent. 

‘It was clear they were just trying to obey orders. It wasn’t something that even they were comfortable with. I was feeling happy and relieved. I was also still unsure of what the future holds. We couldn’t share our feelings with each other. We were each feeling it on our own. I really would have loved to hug the others but I couldn’t.’

Other migrants said that they felt like they were being sent for ‘execution’ before the ECHR’s extraordinary late-night intervention.

The intervention has sparked a row over the ECHR’s role in UK affairs, with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab now examining whether ministers can disregard last-minute rulings from the Strasbourg court in cases which have already been considered by British judges.  

Crew members board the Rwanda deportation flight EC-LZO Boeing 767 at Boscombe Down Air Base before European judges grounded the plane

A private charter jet leaves MoD Boscombe Down empty on Tuesday

Police vehicles pictured guarding the main entrance to MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire

Protesters gathered outside Colnbrook Immigration Detention Centre in Heathrow and lay on the ground in an effort to halt Tuesday’s first flight transporting UK asylum seekers to Rwanda

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s Rwanda migrant policy has been dealt a blow by European judges this week

Timeline of defeat: How the first flight to Rwanda failed to take off 

Tuesday was meant to mark the first flight of the Government’s much-vaunted Rwanda resettlement scheme for UK asylum seekers.

At the start of the day, just seven names remained of the 130 on the original passenger list after a series of legal challenges. So how did the day unfold?

12.42pm – The Supreme Court rejected an appeal over a judge’s refusal to call off the removal of an asylum seeker due to be deported. 

2.05pm – The first of four appeals before the High Court was rejected by Lord Justice Swift.

2.30pm – The second and third asylum seekers’ appeals were also refused at the High Court by Lord Swift.

3.30pm – The Prime Minister admits it may be ‘necessary to change some laws’ in an interview with Sky News to allow the Rwanda resettlement scheme.

4.30pm – A fourth asylum seeker’s claim is also rejected at the High Court by Lord Swift. 

4.35pm – A Boeing 767 aircraft is spotted on the runway at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.

4.40pm – Rwanda government spokeswoman Yolande Maloki defends the resettlement scheme in a press conference and insists it is not a punishment.

6.10pm – Protesters from ‘Stop Deportations!’ block the exit routes from Colnbrook Immigration Detention Centre in Heathrow.

6.40pm – In a decisive turning point, the European Court of Human Rights passes an injunction preventing a 54-year-old Iraqi man from being transferred on the flight. 

6.55pm – Around five Home Office vans are spotted at MoD Boscombe Down. 

7.20pm – Speculation mounts whether the flight will go ahead after the ECHR’s ruling.

7.45pm – Demonstrators gather at the front of Mod Boscombe Down waving banners. 

9.30pm – There are reports of just three asylum seekers on the plane, which was due to take off shortly.

10pm – Reports emerge that there is just one asylum seeker left on the plane amid confusion over whether it will depart.

10.10pm – The final asylum seeker is removed from the Boeing 767 aircraft, at which point it  is announced the flight has been cancelled.

Miss Patel has vowed to press ahead with the Rwanda policy – and revealed a series of further flights are already in the planning stages.

But it is understood no final decision will be made on booking a new flight until the full implications of the Strasbourg ruling are made clear. It remains unknown whether the 11th-hour ruling is broad enough to bar all migrants from being removed.

The Home Secretary said she was ‘disappointed and surprised’ by Strasbourg’s decision to overrule British courts but told MPs it was ‘inevitable’ there would be legal challenges to the policy. 

One Cabinet source described the court’s intervention as ‘maddening’. 

Government lawyers were examining whether some people – such as those who do not claim to have suffered ill-treatment in their home countries – would not be covered by the ECHR injunction’s terms and could still be put on a plane to Kigali.

In an apparent reference to the campaign groups and human rights lawyers who have brought repeated legal actions, Miss Patel told MPs that ‘the usual suspects’ had set out to ‘thwart’ the plan.

She criticised the ‘very opaque’ ruling by the ECHR late on Tuesday night which led to the inaugural flight being aborted.

It is understood a number of migrants were already aboard a chartered Boeing 767 at the Ministry of Defence air base at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, when the flight was abandoned.

Miss Patel also attacked ‘mobs’ who staged a blockade of the A4 at Colnbrook immigration removal centre, near Heathrow, in an attempt to stop migrants being removed.

A string of Tory MPs called for the Government to withdraw from the ECHR entirely.

Sir Desmond Swayne told Miss Patel: ‘We are going to have to grasp the nettle and extend the provision of taking back control to the ECHR.’

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford urge the Home Secretary to press ahead with the policy ‘despite this despicable ruling from the foreign European Court of Justice’.

Former No 10 aide Danny Kruger told a Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group: ‘Ultimately we do need to leave [the] ECHR or renegotiate to return to the original limited concept of human rights as drafted by Conservative Brit lawyers in the 50s to give post Nazi Europe the same rights and liberties as UK had enjoyed for centuries.’

Stoke MP Jonathan Gullis said: ‘The ECHR has no place in the UK judicial system. The Government needs to free itself from it entirely.’

According to the European Implementation Network, which monitors the effectiveness of the court, almost half of its judgments in the last decade are yet to be complied with by member states.

The UK is one of the top performers, complying with 80 per cent of judgments, compared with 72 per cent for France, 63 per cent for Germany and just 39 per cent for Spain.

Russia has implemented only 10 per cent of the court’s rulings in the last decade, while Azerbaijain has followed just three per cent.

But there were signs that a full withdrawal from the ECHR would split the Tory Party.

Downing Street left the door open to the move, saying ‘all options are on the table’.

And Mrs Braverman told the BBC: ‘We are considering our response in relation to that decision, but more broadly we are definitely open to assessing all options available as to what our relationship should be going forward with the [ECHR].’

Priti Patel’s inaugural deportation flight is seen at MoD Boscombe Down base in Wiltshire on Tuesday night

A convoy believed to be carrying migrants leaves MoD Boscombe Down on Tuesday night

But pensions minister Guy Opperman said leaving the ECHR was ‘not policy’ and ‘not something I will be advocating for’.

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland added: ‘I don’t think it’s right for us, as a party, to abandon our historic commitments to the European convention. It was British Conservative lawyers who wrote it after the war.’

Government sources expressed deep concern that authorities at Strasbourg had yet to reveal which judge ruled on the case.

The court is one of the few European institutions to retain links with Russia, despite its pariah status in the wake of the Putin’s bloody Ukraine war.

Moscow’s representative on the judicial panel, Mikhail Lobov, is understood to still be hearing cases at the court.

It also emerged that London’s Court of Appeal issued injunctions barring the removal of three migrants in the wake of the Strasbourg case.

Senior UK judges ruled earlier this week that the legality of the Rwanda deal will be decided by a full judicial review, expected to be heard by the end of next month.

Source: Read Full Article