ECHR says it is ‘reflecting’ on injunction rules amid UK hopes on migrant flights

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FILE PHOTO: British Home Secretary Suella Braverman meets members of the Norrsken Foundation during her visit to Kigali, Rwanda, March 18, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) – The European Court of Human Rights said on Monday “reflections” were ongoing as to its use of urgent interim measures but denied this was related to an injunction it imposed last year which stopped Britain’s proposed scheme to send migrants to Rwanda.

The British government is hoping to send thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles away (6,400 km) to the East African country as part of a 120 million-pound ($146 million) deal it agreed with Rwanda last April.

But no deportations have taken place because the ECHR stepped in at the last moment to stop the first flight from taking off last June. It issued an injunction under its Rule 39, effectively blocking any action until challenges against the lawfulness of the scheme had concluded in the British courts.

However, on Monday British newspapers reported that there had been “constructive” discussions between London and the European court, and cited an unnamed government source who said the judges were close to backing down.

Asked about the reports, the ECHR said it would amend its rules when the need arose, and was “attentive to points raised by the government agents of the 46 member States.”

“Since last November, reflections are ongoing in relation to the procedures for dealing with interim measures,” the court said in a statement. “This internal review is unrelated to any individual case or the position on interim measures of any one of the 46 member States.”

It said Britain’s deputy prime minister and attorney general had been informed of its review during meetings with the court’s president earlier this year.

The Rwanda scheme is a fundamental part of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to stop migrants arriving in small boats across the English Channel, with more than 45,000 people making the perilous journey last year.

British Home Secretary (interior minister) Suella Braverman visited Rwanda this weekend to tour possible facilities for deported migrants.

“I’ve been encouraged by the government’s constructive recent discussions with Strasbourg, including around possible reforms to Rule 39 procedures, which is obviously something we’d like to see,” Braverman was quoted by British media as saying.

(Reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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