The European Court of Human Rights confirmed it had issued an order on Tuesday preventing the deportation of one individual due to be on the first flight of migrants from Britain to Rwanda due to depart hours later.
The court had decided “that the applicant should not be removed until the expiry of a period of three weeks following the delivery of the final domestic decision in the ongoing judicial review proceedings”, its ruling said.
Britain’s first scheduled flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda was set to depart on Tuesday, with the government warning that anyone who avoided it through last-minute legal challenges would be put on a later plane despite an outcry from critics.
Britain has struck a 120-million-pound ($148 million) deal with Rwanda to send some migrants, who had arrived by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe, to live in the East African country.
The plan, which the government says will stem the flow of dangerous cross-Channel trips and smash people-smuggling networks, has horrified political opponents, charities and religious leaders who say it is inhumane.
The United Nations’ refugee chief called it “catastrophic”, the entire leadership of the Church of England denounced it as immoral and shameful, and media reports have said heir to the throne Prince Charles had privately described the plan as “appalling”.
With just hours to go before the flight was due to depart, Britain’s Supreme Court rejected a bid from one Iraqi individual to have his deportation blocked, while a handful of others also had their claims dismissed by the High Court in London. An attempt to put an injunction on the flight failed on Monday.