Sunday June 19, 2022

Boris’s strange solution for illegal immigrants

Boris’s strange solution for illegal immigrants

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government’s policy of sending unwelcome and illegal migrants to Britain to Rwanda based on an understanding between the two governments received a setback with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issuing a last-minute injunction stopping the flight taking the first batch of migrants to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Tuesday.

A defiant Prime Minister Johnson said on Saturday, “Every single court in this country said there was no obstacle they could see, no court in this country ruled the policy unlawful, which was very, very encouraging. We are very confident in the legality, the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”

The characteristic assertiveness of  Johnson does not hide the fact that the policy is distasteful, to say the least.

The most revolting aspect is the decision of the British Home Office to electronically tag some of the illegal immigrants. And it was said some of those on the plane to Rwanda were tagged too, a practice prevalent in the United States for use in case of criminals on parole.

A Home Office spokesperson said, “We will keep as many people in detention as the law allows but where a court orders that an individual due to be on Tuesday’s flight should be released, we will tag them where appropriate.”

The British government feels that sending unwanted illegal migrants to Rwanda would discourage people from reaching the shores of the country, and the policy would help break syndicates of international human traffickers. He seems to believe that once people know that smugglers are making false promises of taking the desperate immigrants to Britain when Britain would deport them to Rwanda.

It is a colonial mindset, and Johnson wants to use Rwanda as a kind of a penal colony, the way Britain used Australia in the late 18th and early 19th century, and France used some of its Caribbean possessions for the same purpose. In the present instance, the immigrants are far from being criminals of any kind except that they have landed in Britain without proper documents.

There has been strong domestic opposition to Johnson’s outdated colonial thinking, including from Heir-Apparent, Prince Charles. And the Church of England opposed the move on moral grounds and called it shameful and immoral. Prince Charles said the policy was “appalling”. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called the plan “catastrophic”.

The ECHR directive was not a general one, and it related to an Iraqi and the court said that he “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.” The High Court in London is due to decide on the legality of the scheme in July.

But Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Johnson are convinced that what they are doing both legal and sensible. Johnson made it clear that he would not be put off by criticism, “some of it from slightly unexpected quarters”, perhaps a reference to Prince Charles.

Patel said, “I have always said that this policy would not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today’s (Tuesday’s) flight was unable to depart.”

And she expressed surprise at the intervention of ECHR: “It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.” It is evident that Johnson and Patel are thinking like hard-wired politicians who have to deal with immigrants if they are allowed to stay in Britain, and there is space in their minds to consider human and moral dimensions of the problem.


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