Judges rule part of detained fast track unlawful - Refugee Council
December 17, 2014

Judges rule part of detained fast track unlawful

The Home Office is to release asylum seekers in the detained fast track system who have appeals pending and who show no risk of absconding.

The indication from the Home Office comes as the Court of Appeal ruled that locking up asylum seekers who show no risk of absconding while their appeal is pending is unlawful.

The news is the latest outcome of a long running legal challenge brought by charity Detention Action against the Home Office’s detained fast track system. Judges had previously ruled that the detained fast track system carried an unacceptable risk of unfairness.

Detention Action had challenged the lawfulness of detaining asylum-seekers during their appeals purely on the grounds that their claims could be processed quickly.  The charity argued that asylum-seekers who are found to pose no risk of absconding should be released while their appeals are processed.

The Court of Appeal upheld Detention Action’s appeal on the grounds that the policy on detaining asylum seekers during their appeals is not sufficiently clear and transparent. Further, the Court made an alternative finding that the policy is not justified, with Lord Justice Beatson finding that the evidence before the court:

“does not provide the sort of substantial fact-based justification that the Supreme Court…  indicated would be needed to justify an interference with a fundamental right.”

The Home Office is currently reassessing the detention of all asylum seekers currently going through the fast track and has indicated it will release all who are not at risk of absconding. The Home Office expects to have made those decisions by 19 December 2014.

Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said:

“This judgement is welcome news; however it’s high time the British Government did away with the use of immigration detention in the asylum system and admitted that the whole principle defies our most cherished British values.

“Locking up people who only came to the UK in search of safety is expensive, inefficient and the human cost is simply unacceptable.”