Removal of immigrants without 72 hour notice illegal: HC

Home Office likely to stop practice pending outcome of an appeal Image

2nd August 2010:
The special exceptions policy, put in use by the UK Border Agency for removing people from the UK without 72-hour notice, is unlawful, a High Court judge has ruled.

Responding to the verdict, the Home Office has indicated the policy of implementing exceptions to the 72-hour notice period will stop pending the outcome of an appeal.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Silber held: “The effect of the 2010 exceptions is that in practice in the limited time available between serving the removal directions and the actual removal, it is frequently almost impossible that somebody served with removal directions will be able to find a lawyer who would be ready, willing and able to provide legal advice within the time available prior to removal let alone in an appropriate case to challenge those removal directions. There is a very high risk if not an inevitability that the right of access to justice is being and will be infringed.”

According to Home Office guidance, the notice period can be withdrawn in specific circumstances, either where it is deemed that an unaccompanied child is at risk of absconding, or if someone is at risk of suicide or self-harm at the point they are served with removal directions.

But Medical Justice, a charity providing independent medical advice to immigration detainees, while bringing the case against the government claimed some of the practices being deployed for bringing into force the policy were stopping people from access to legal representation to challenge their removal.

Welcoming the verdict that the “policy is unlawful and must be quashed”, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture said it believes this UKBA exceptions policy is a denial of fundamental rights and could potentially result in some torture survivors not being identified – due to issues such as a previous lack of legal representation or profound trauma, it can often be towards the end of the asylum process when torture is identified as a factor in a person’s claim.

The Foundation provides therapeutic care to torture survivors, including ones vulnerable to receiving ‘no-notice’ rulings.

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