Despite a number of complaints and harsh criticism, the British government wanted to stick to its controversial plan and fly asylum seekers to Rwanda in East Africa. Now a European court is thwarting this plan for the time being.

The first planned deportation flight from Great Britain to Rwanda with asylum seekers of different nationalities was stopped by a court shortly before departure. This was reported by British media on Tuesday evening, citing government sources, after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg thwarted the British government’s plans with a rare intervention.

With the flight planned for late Tuesday evening, London wanted to herald its controversial Rwanda Pact, with which the conservative government wants to deter other people seeking protection from entering the United Kingdom.

The agreement provides that those seeking protection who have illegally entered Great Britain, regardless of their nationality or origin, are brought to the East African country and given the opportunity to apply for asylum there in return for payments from the British government. Even if they are recognized there as refugees, there should never be a return to Great Britain.

The United Nations and many other organizations see this as a breach of international law and a dangerous precedent. British courts basically gave the flight the green light, but many individual lawsuits were successful, which is why the number of passengers scheduled for Tuesday evening had decreased in the days before. In the hours before the scheduled departure, a rare intervention by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg saw the number of departures drop to zero and the flight was canceled altogether.