13 June 2022

Hundreds protest outside Home Office against Rwanda deportation plan

13 June 2022

A lawyer who attended a protest outside the Home Office has said there is “righteous anger” at the Government plan to send some asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Hundreds of protesters took part in a demonstration outside the Home Office in Westminster on Monday.

Lauren Chaplin, 28, who works as a lawyer in London, attended the protest and called the controversial Government policy “violent and repressive”.

Demonstrators protest outside the Home Office against plans to send migrants to Rwanda (PA) (PA Wire)

“There was a clear and righteous anger at the Government’s violent and repressive policies, but also a lot of energy,” Ms Chaplin told the PA news agency.

“Everyone at the protest really cares about building a better tomorrow.

“Everyone there was in high spirits as speakers finished (with) dance music playing, organisers telling people to stay safe and hydrated – but tensions were high as crowds dispersed due to heavy police presence.

“There were chants directed towards the police including ‘Who do you serve? Who do you protect?’”

Ms Chaplin said there was a crowd of about 300 protesters outside the Home Office building on Marsham Street but the exact number was “hard to gauge”.

Jeremy Corbyn was among the demonstrators outside the Home Office (PA) (PA Wire)

Hours earlier, Court of Appeal judges rejected a last-ditch legal bid to block the first flight due to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda under the Government policy.

The first flight is set to take off on Tuesday after three Court of Appeal judges upheld a ruling made last week by the High Court that the controversial removals could go ahead, rejecting an appeal by two refugee charities and the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS).

“The Court of Appeal decision is a huge disappointment and I hope the illegality of this scheme will be recognised by the Supreme Court,” Ms Chaplin said.

“As a lawyer, I believe deeply in the rule of law, but where courts uphold immoral and repressive policies which put the world’s most vulnerable in direct danger, you have to ask – where does that leave us as a society?”

The policy has been strongly condemned by opposition parties, while some Tories also remain deeply unhappy about the plan.

Among the protesters outside the Home Office were a number of Labour MPs including Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech condemning the plan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government had anticipated “a lot of teething problems” with the policy, but said the move is necessary to stop illegal people-smuggling on either side of the Channel.

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