Protests are expected to take place in several Scottish cities as a high court challenge against the UK government’s plan to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda gets under way.
Activists in Edinburgh and Glasgow plan to gather as part of national demonstrations months after the inaugural flight was grounded amid a series of legal challenges.
Home Secretary Priti Patel signed what she described as a “world-first agreement” with the East African nation in a bid to deter migrants from crossing the Channel.
However, asylum seekers, along with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, are bringing challenges over the proposals.
The first flight was due to take off on June 14, but protesters blocked the route to an airfield at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.
A series of last-minute legal interventions by human rights groups eventually led to all being removed from the flight.
The Home Office will be defending the claims at the case in London, with a spokesperson for the department previously stating Rwanda is a “fundamentally safe and secure country, with a track record of supporting asylum seekers”.
Lord Justice Lewis, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, previously said the hearing in London will start on Monday and last for five days, with a second hearing in the claim brought by the group Asylum Aid taking place in October.
Both decisions are expected to be given in writing at the same time.
During a previous hearing, the court was told Rwanda had initially been excluded from the shortlist of potential countries “on human rights grounds”.
Judges heard that in an internal note from March 2021, Foreign Office officials told then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab that if Rwanda was selected for the deportation policy “we would need to be prepared to constrain UK positions on Rwanda’s human rights record, and to absorb resulting criticism from UK Parliament and NGOs”.
In another memo, Foreign Office officials said they had advised Downing Street against engagement with several countries, including Rwanda, the court was told in written arguments.
The court also heard the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda previously indicated the country should not be used as an option for the policy, telling the Government it “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”.
Another official memo in April this year said the “fraud risk is very high” and there is “limited evidence about whether these proposals will be a sufficient deterrent for those seeking to enter the UK illegally”, judges were told.
Protest in Edinburgh are due to take place at The Mound, while those in Glasgow are expected to congregate in George Square.
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