What follows is just a sample of the kinds of decisions that our clients are faced with on a daily basis. Yesterday’s incidents are not particularly unusual but might shock those not familiar with the travesty of immigration detention.
13:00: In a monthly progress report issued to one of our clients, the section ‘progress since your last report’ said simply: ‘this is your 9th review’. In other words, the only progress since your last report is this report. Home Secretaries and Immigration ministers have often referred to the fact that detention is reviewed on a monthly basis to justify the use of detention. In reality, the process is a box-ticking formality.
14:00: In a bail hearing this morning, the Home Office accepted all of the following: that our client had a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a British child; that his removal is not imminent; that he is a low risk of harm and reoffending; that he is a low risk of absconding. The bail summary essentially validated all of our submissions. In addition, he had 3 sureties offering £17,500.
The Judge refused bail, as his permission to appeal determination in the upper tribunal is outstanding.
14:30: Our client had written to the tribunal requesting that his asylum appeal be postponed, so that he could find a lawyer to represent him. This was refused by a judge of the first tier tribunal. Here’s why:
“The appellant’s case is straightforward and Tribunal proceedings are designed to be informal so that an appellant can appear without a representative if one cannot be found. There is no legal right to have a representative, but in every event the appellant has had plenty of time to find one…
“Taking into account the appellant’s excellent command of the English language and the straightforward nature of his appeal together with the overriding objective I am satisfied that the appeal can be justly determined on the basis of the appellant’s oral evidence, his interview record and the background material available to the Tribunal.”
This is an injustice for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that he doesn’t actually speak English…
15:00: One of our clients was refused Secretary of State bail partly because of the risk that he would re-offend. The Home Office decision-maker used the fact that he had witnessed domestic violence as a child to justify his ongoing detention:
“You are considered as a medium risk of re-offending. Although this was your first offence it was for violent disorder. You have also been present in the past at your family’s home on 3 occasions in the past and witnessed domestic incidents, which may have affected your own judgment as to how to deal with situations without resorting to violence to resolve the issues.”
15:20: A client had his legal documents sent to him in Harmondsworth IRC, but they were lost by detention centre staff and never reached him. He received ‘sincere apologies’ from detention centre staff, one month after the event.
His lost documents were important for his upcoming appeal in the upper tribunal, and he wrote to the Home Office to ask to be released so that he could collect other evidence to support his substantive case. Almost 3 weeks after this, he received a response, which was another apology, with the additional explanation that the request had now been passed to those responsible for his case in the Home Office’s Detained Asylum Casework. He is still waiting for his response, with his appeal fast approaching.
16:00: One of BID’s clients submitted a Pre-Action Protocol, with the intention of challenging the delays to his section 4 application. He has been seeking a bail address for just under a year, and argues that the Home Office’s ongoing failure to process his claim is unlawful.
The Home Office’s response defends the delay as neither excessive nor unreasonable. They sign off with “Please note that in-line with our published Asylum Support and Section 4 policy the Home Office will continue to attempt to source appropriate accommodation. However, if we are unable to secure the appropriate accommodation in future your client’s application may be refused”. Essentially, they acknowledge their obligations under the policy, and then explain that they just may not fulfil them.