Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The ECHR and taking back control

the-echr-5180649_128_20220618-103533_1 The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

Take back control, they said. The UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership was their means of doing so. In response to the 11th hour intervention from the European Court of Human Rights which led to the flight being cancelled, the Home Secretary Priti Patel said "We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation's borders". This has prompted some to propose leaving the ECHR and the government, which hasn't taken that position yet – to argue that the Strasbourg court overstepped its mark.

While it is difficult to judge the situations of each and every asylum seeker that was to be deported – we simply don't have the details for that. However, the High Court previously refused to grand an emergency injunction, and then the Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from the NGOs seeking to stop the deportations – and yet the ECHR, in a last-minute intervention came to a very different conclusion. Thus, the idea that an overseas court could ignore all of that has made many start to question the basis of staying in the ECHR.

Before the ECHR intervention, Lord Justice Rabinder Singh of the Court of Appeals argued that the "ethical or political controversy" was not a debate for the courts that it was a matter for the government, accountable to an elected parliament. Moreover, Justice Jonathan Swift if the High Court refused to grant an emergency intervention, ruling that there was a "material public interest" in allowing the Home Secretary to carry out her policies.

Hence, despite these two decisions, the ECHR has taken a different interpretation: that in particular, ongoing proceedings and the processing of asylum seekers' applications meant that being deported to Rwanda will not provide an asylum applicant with "fair and efficient procedures for determination", as the Guardian said – this is despite assurances from the Government to the Supreme Court that if the asylum applicant was indeed successful in line with UK refugee law, then this person would be returned to the UK. Therefore, the logic is vague and the basis for the ECHR's decision is vague.

The ECHR's ruling cannot be ignored under the Human Rights Act – but this has given new impetus to proposals a new Bill of Rights, a plan already announced by the Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab. Despite what many may think of the government's policy of relocating asylum seekers who cross the channel to Rwanda – there is no doubt that an elected government should be able to take control of their own immigration policies, especially when domestic courts have not found breaches or violations.

So, while the UK's membership of the Council of Europe puts it under the ECHR's jurisdiction for the moment, making their decisions binding, it gives cause to the arguments in favour of sovereignty and empowering the British government to make decisions about its borders – many of which are already in line with international agreements. Moreover, questions are being asked of the specific judgement being made and the details. The Home 

This is far from an anti-refugee argument and it isn't driven by xenophobic sentiment, as shown by the fact that relocated persons will be returned to the UK were their applications to be successful. Instead, it is driven by the view that a government's policies and strategies to fulfil its commitments should not be beholden to overseas courts, moreover ones that went about making their decision in the most opaque of manners,.

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