Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq of Duncan Lewis’ Public Law / Immigration Department have recently returned from Sofia, Bulgaria. This visit took place in order to obtain evidence for the case of R (oao) SSI v The Secretary of State for the Home Department (JR10504/2014).
The case concerns a Third Country challenge to the decision of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to remove our client to Bulgaria, subsequent to the refusal and certification of his asylum and human rights claims; it is currently before the UTIAC awaiting a decision on permission.
Despite the fact that numerous internationally recognised NGOs have stated that the deficiencies within the Bulgarian asylum procedure are to be considered a serious cause for concern, if not systemic, this visit took place in order to obtain an up-to-date indication of the manner in which these deficiencies have been exacerbated, as a result of the recent upsurge in removals to Bulgaria. There has been no information released within the public domain concerning these issues for a period in excess of six months.
The list of NGOs that Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq liaised with includes the UNHCR, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Bulgarian Refugee Council, CARITAS and the Bulgarian Red Cross. An update as to the progression of this case will be communicated in due course.