LONDON -- Monday's appeal hearing is scheduled for British government opponents to the plan to deport Rwandan migrants. This comes amid a political backlash after Prince Charles privately described the policy in an "appalling" manner.
A coalition of groups, including advocates for immigration rights and public worker unions, will petition the Court of Appeal in London for an annulment of a lower court decision allowing the first flight of deportation to proceed as planned on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the Conservative government announced in April plans to send undocumented migrants into Rwanda to process their asylum claims in the east African country. These migrants will be allowed to stay in Rwanda if they are successful. The UK paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($158million) upfront. Additional payments will be made based on the number deported.
After a rise in these journeys in the last two years, the program is designed to discourage migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats. Human rights groups claim that the policy is illegal and inhumane, and will only increase the risk for migrants.
After the Times of London reported that Prince Charles had spoken out against the policy "several" times in private conversations, the debate erupted in Britain's news media.
The newspaper quotes a source saying that "he said he thought the whole government's approach is appalling."
Clarence House, Charles's office, declined to comment on "anonymous conversations", but stated that the prince is "politically neutral."
Charles's remarks are problematic as he is the heir of the throne, and the British monarch is supposed not to be involved in politics.
After a lifetime of speaking out about issues such as ocean plastic and architectural preservation, the conversations raised concerns about Charles' ability to be neutral. Charles, aged 73, has assumed a more central role as Queen Elizabeth II (his 96-year old mother) has been unable to carry out her duties.
The comments caused a firestorm among British newspapers. The Daily Express warned the Prince of Wales that he should "stay out of politics Charles!" The Mail Sunday stated: "We won't back down on Rwanda Charles."
Johnson's government is not showing any signs of changing its course.
Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary, was a representative of the government on Britain’s Sunday morning TV programs. He said that the British government wanted to change the business model of people-smugglers and offered strong defense of the plan.
Sky News's David Sullivan stated that "the reality is that this is a strategy that will deliver -- to ensure modern slavery and these people-smugglers that their criminal ways will be broken down."
On Sunday, the Home Office, which oversees border enforcement, posted comments by a Rwandan spokesperson on social media.
Yolande Makolo, Rwanda's spokesperson, stated that "it's about protecting, ensuring, and developing both Rwandan migrants and Rwandans within Rwanda."
London's High Court rejected Friday's request by opponents to the plan to stop Britain's Rwandan asylum flights. The court would then decide whether or not the program is illegal. This decision allows flights to start even though the wider legal challenge continues.
This ruling was appealed to Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal will hear the petition Monday.
Mathew Gullick, a government lawyer, stated Friday that 37 people had been originally scheduled to board Tuesday's flight. However, six of them were deported. He said that the government intends to continue operating the flight.
Although the government has not released details about those who will be deported, refugee groups claim that they include refugees fleeing Syria or Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees are already residing in Rwanda. Conflict over land and resources led to ethnic and political tensions which culminated in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. More than 800,000 Tutsi were killed, while moderate Hutu tried to protect them.
Although President Paul Kagame's government has made significant economic progress since the genocide began, critics claim that it has been at the expense of strong political repression.
Britain's plans to create a refugee agency under the United Nations have been rebuffed by that agency, claiming it is an attempt to export its legal obligations to provide asylum to people seeking safe haven.
Gillian Triggs (UNHCR's assistant high-commissar for protection) stated that people fleeing conflict, war and persecution should be treated with compassion and empathy. They should not be treated as commodities or sent abroad for processing.
Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.
Follow all AP stories on Britain's royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.