The ruling covers the detention of asylum seekers who had been held in the UK between 2005 and 2014.
Home Office Policy
Under Home Office policy in force at the time, detainees who were not thought to have a strong case for claiming asylum were placed in a “detained fast track” system, which gave them substantially shorter time periods to present their case. If their initial claim for asylum was rejected, some had only seven days to pull together their appeal case. These short timescales made it very difficult for them to gather evidence or obtain legal representation. Detainees not in the fast track process would be given a much longer period of time.
A similar scheme introduced in 2014 had already been found to be unlawfully unfair by the court in 2015 after a legal challenge by campaign group Detention Action, and this scheme was thought to have slightly less tight timescales than the previous scheme.
Timescales Unfairly Short
Aspects of the scheme highlighted by the High Court judge to be unfair included the tight timescales involved, the shortness of the process and the lack of representation for affected detainees, reports the Guardian.
In theory, the latest ruling gives detainees who had their asylum appeals turned down under the fast track scheme the right to have their appeals reheard, but as many will already deported the decision comes too late to be of much help to them.
“This ruling confirms that for ten years the Home Office was putting asylum seekers through a detained process that was unlawfully unfair,” commented Detention Action Director Jerome Phelps. “Countless thousands of people will have been deported, without ever having a lawful hearing of their cases. No one can know their fate. The Home Office and the courts must make sure that never again are asylum seekers systematically denied justice.”
“This judgment is an important reminder that no-one should have to fight their asylum case from behind bars, and a victory for those people who can now have their cases re-heard in the community,” added William, a member of Freed Voices, with personal experience of the detained fast track procedure. “But it also stands as a memorial for the thousands of people who were removed from 2005 onwards, who will never be able to access the justice they were denied.”
According to the Guardian, a Government spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the High Court decision and said that it was currently under consideration.
If you have entered the UK illegally, overstayed or have been threatened with removal or deportation, Stevens Machi solicitors can help. We have years of experience in dealing with these circumstances and understand how important your case is to you.
Contact us today for expert legal advice on your situation. Call us on 020 8003 2989 or fill out our online enquiry form.