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Britain Fights Pro-Migrant Rulings

FILE: FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday Aug. 8, 2020, a British Border Force vessel at the port city of Dover, England, a landing spot for migrants and asylum seekers from France.

Britain began legislating on Wednesday for a new Bill of Rights to give the government the power to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which last week blocked ministers' plans to send migrants to Rwanda.

British lawmakers are considering a measure in reaction to the European Commission on Human Rights issuing last minute injunctions preventing Britain from deporting asylum seekers to the East African country Rwanda.

The new Bill of Rights put before parliament on Wednesday will make clear that Britain's Supreme Court, which had allowed the Rwanda flights, had legal supremacy and ECHR decisions did not always need to be followed by British courts.

It would confirm that injunctions issued by the ECHR under its Rule 39, which stopped the Rwandan flight, were not binding, the Ministry of Justice said.

"These reforms will reinforce freedom of speech, enable us to deport more foreign offenders and better protect the public from dangerous criminals," British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said.

The government said the new bill would restrict the ability of foreign criminals to use a right to family life to prevent their deportation, and would stop "trivial" human rights cases from getting to court. It will also cement in law greater freedom of the press and freedom of expression, it added.

Lawyers and campaigners said however that the plan would erode people's rights and hand more power to ministers. As it stands, British courts are not bound by ECHR rulings anyway.

Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said it would create an acceptable class of human rights abuses, while Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said it was unsurprising that politicians held to account by human rights laws wanted them removed.

"This is not about tinkering with rights. It's about removing them," Deshmukh said.