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Clients granted permission to challenge the lack of safeguards for people held in prison under immigration powers (1 February 2019)

Date: 01/02/2019
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Clients granted permission to challenge the lack of safeguards for people held in prison under immigration powers

The High Court has granted clients of Duncan Lewis Solicitors permission to challenge the lack of safeguards in place to identify vulnerable people held in prison under immigration powers. The Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Justice are defendants in this claim.

This litigation could have profound implications for hundreds of people held in the prison estate under immigration powers every year.

Who is making the challenge?

We are currently representing a number of clients who were held for months under immigration powers in prison despite being survivors of torture and sexual violence, and/or having serious mental health problems. Our clients argue that there is insufficient protection for vulnerable people held in the prison estate as opposed to those in immigration detention centres.

What safeguards are in place for people in detention centres?

Rule 34 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 provides for a full medical examination within 24 hours. It is designed to identify those who may be unsuitable for detention or whose vulnerability means their detention should be closely monitored.

Rule 35 of the same rules sets out that a person who claims to be a victim of torture, has suicidal ideations or whose health would be injuriously affected by detention should be assessed by an independent medical practitioner. This report is then submitted to the Home Secretary who must review whether or not continued detention is appropriate within two days.

What safeguards currently exist for people in prisons?

The Detention Centre Rules 2001 do not apply for people held in prison. Our clients argue that there is no equivalent to Rule 34 and Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and that this lacuna is unlawful on the basis that it is unfair/unreasonable, discriminatory, and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Our clients claim the effect of the absence of safeguards on vulnerable people held for months in prison, is that the Home Secretary is unaware of their vulnerability throughout their detention. Even on the occasion that the Home Secretary has become aware, he has failed to make adequate enquiries about how ongoing immigration detention is affecting them.

Representation

The claimants are represented by Toufique Hossain, Sulaiha Ali and Philip Armitage of the Harrow Public Law Team. Instructed counsel includes Hugh Southey QC, of Matrix Chambers, and Raza Halim, of Garden Court Chambers.

Contact

If you have any questions about this challenge, please contact:

Sulaiha Ali: 0203 114 1163 or sulaihaa@duncanlewis.com.

Philip Armitage: 0203 114 1219 or philipa@duncanlewis.com.

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