Asylum-seekers, locked up in high security detention centres, were subjected to an unlawfully unfair process that imposed unrealistic deadlines to obtain evidence and lodge appeals.
The notorious Detained Fast Track asylum process was suspended in July 2015, after the Court of Appeal found that it was unlawfully unfair, in a challenge brought by Detention Action.
The Court of Appeal accepted that the judicial rules setting the tight timescales for asylum-seekers to make appeals were unlawful and ‘ultra vires’. As a result, asylum-seekers who had been refused on this unfair process had the right to have their cases reheard.
However, the Home Office had argued that the ruling only affected asylum-seekers whose cases were heard before 2014, when the judicial rules had changed.
The High Court has found that the previous rules, which gave asylum-seekers even less time to make appeals, were also unlawful. These rules were in operation for almost a decade, between 2005 and 2014.
Detention Action Director Jerome Phelps said:
‘This ruling confirms that for ten years the Home Office was putting asylum-seekers through a detained process that was unlawfully unfair. 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.’
William from Freed Voices said:
‘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. 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. I can still remember the faces of those who were on the Detained Fast Track with me and were sent back to places they had done everything to escape. Some of them I still speak to and some of them I cannot. They are gone. Only the blood on Home Office hands remains.’