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Bahar Ata visits HMP Peterborough discussing foreign national detainee’s rights under the UN refugee convention (21 March 2019)

Date: 21/03/2019
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Bahar Ata visits HMP Peterborough discussing foreign national detainee’s rights under the UN refugee convention

Director of immigration and public law, Bahar Ata, based in Luton, was invited to attend HMP Peterborough to speak with detainees who are subject to immigration proceedings.

On arrival, Bahar began her visit by presenting on a number of key issues. Specifically she focused on the rights of foreign nationals under the UN refugee convention, deportation and the rights of those facing deportation as well as the steps to take to respond to Home Office decisions.

She also had the opportunity to visit the detainees in their wards and to have one to one discussions about their individual cases. Bahar provided advice on what to do following a decision being served on them by the Home Office, including how to manage requests for further evidence and/or submissions.

Bahar found that these case specific discussions enabled her to go into detail on the various issues that were affecting the prisoners, a number of which presented with indicators that they are victims of trafficking. Despite their vulnerabilities and the trauma that they had gone through, they are held until the prospect of their release, which is usually followed by deportation.

According to, Immigration Statistics, year ending June 2018: ‘How many people are detained or returned?’ 5,724 Foreign National Offenders were removed from the UK last year. Of those held in the prison estate under immigration powers, many have been trafficked to the UK. It is this, and other unique circumstances which cause foreign nationals to find themselves detained. Bahar notes that this is a compelling reason why there is an absolute need for immigration advice surgeries in prisons.

Another poignant observation that Bahar made during her visit to HMP Peterborough was that the majority of foreign nationals were in a separate ward, which means that they are prevented from interacting with non-foreign national detainees. This is arguably discriminatory behaviour towards foreign nationals.

A team of public law solicitors at Duncan Lewis are currently in the process of challenging the lack of access to essential legal advice in prisons, compared to that which is available to immigration detainees held in immigration removal centres across the UK. As part of the judicial review proceedings brought on behalf of multiple clients, we are primarily arguing that the Lord Chancellor, the Director of Legal Aid Casework and/or the Secretary of State for the Home Department are squarely discriminating against those held under immigration powers who are detained within prisons.

The danger of the current lack of legal support is that immigration detainees in prisons risk losing out on legitimate legal action which could alter the outcome of their case. It could also mean that they are eligible for compensation for unlawful treatment, of which they are not aware, and unable to dispute.

Duncan Lewis Public Law Solicitors

The Duncan Lewis Public Law department continues to be recommended by Legal 500 with the 2019 edition reporting its 'strong presence in this area of the law, making a particularly dominant contribution in immigration, asylum and prison law.'

The Public law team has experience in all aspects of judicial review claimant work, including obtaining emergency orders and other interim relief to prevent breaches of human rights, following up judicial reviews with actions for damages in both the County and High Court and successfully pursuing judicial review matters to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. A particular focus is the team’s work handling cases of the deprivation of British citizenship and deportation threats, with a niche specialism in challenging the treatment of immigration detainees and other marginalised communities.

To contact Bahar, you can reach her on 020 7014 7398 and bahara@duncanlewis.com.

Alternatively, to contact a member of the public law team, call 033 3772 0409.

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