Written by James Patricks, Sona Circle
It’s no coincidence that the Prime Minister’s ethics advisor resigned just a day after a flight taking refugees to Rwanda was set to chart by Privilege Style airlines, an ironic name given the circumstances.
The Rwanda flight was thankfully grounded after each detainee launched legal disputes via the framework of the European Court of Human Rights. The Rwanda policy is particularly strange because as it stands, it’s a handshake deal between the UK and Rwanda. The plan hasn’t gone anywhere near Parliament, meaning that none of its statutes have been signed into law or experienced any formal review process, thus allowing for appeals and injunctions.
Many have pointed out that the brazen and feckless action taken by the Government was purposefully slapdash in order to stir up action in the courts, thus creating a narrative that positioned the Government as fighting against European bureaucrats in order to secure our borders and appear tough on people traffickers. (Not to mention help deflect from the ongoing Partygate investigations which last week resulted in Boris Johnson suffering the worst ever results in a no-confidence vote.) The Government’s attempts to create this narrative have, as always, resulted in human suffering.
Speaking to Novara Media, human rights lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie said that her firm was contacted on Monday night, less than a day before the flight was scheduled to chart, by a refugee who was being sent to Rwanda despite having had no other organisations look at his appeal. Upon looking at his medical records, she discovered that the man had been a victim of torture in his home country as well as a victim of trafficking. The firm then sent this information through to the Home Office, which rejected the plea. The man was spared from the flight to Rwanda at the last minute by the upper tribunal to allow more time for his case to be looked at.
The Home Office fought to send a victim of torture and trafficking to Rwanda for the crime of seeking refuge in the UK. Let that sink in…
The Government’s attempts to make this into a UK vs EU issue are completely false, as the majority of injunctions made against the flights were actually enacted by UK tribunals who were using the EU’s Court of Human Rights as a framework to disagree with the decisions. Pulling out of the EU’s Court of Human Rights wouldn’t change the tribunals’ abilities to refer to the framework. However, the decision would majorly impact UK citizens’ abilities to appeal human rights violations on matters of housing and workers’ rights. The point of having an independent human rights commission is that it allows individuals rights which could be impinged upon by political interests within a particular country.
The European Court of Human Rights was founded in part by Winston Churchill following World War 2, having witnessed the horrors of what unchecked power can do. The UK’s continued membership of the ECHR was written into the Good Friday Agreement in order to maintain the peace in Northern Ireland. The only examples of countries leaving the ECHR are Greece, briefly, when it experienced a military coup and Russia this year when it invaded Ukraine.
The Government fighting to leave the ECHR is an attack against basic standards of human dignity and is yet another rung that the Government are willing to stoop to in order to prey upon people’s worst nationalistic urges.
– James Patricks