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Home Office detains alleged rape victim for over a month even after approving her release


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The Guardian has already reported this case as “Home Office ordered to pay damages to sex-trafficking victim”, but on Bailii it is simply R (ZV) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 2725 (Admin).

The media attention is due to the horrifying facts: the claimant ZV says that she “was beaten, forcibly injected with heroin and forced into prostitution for some eight years” by a fellow Lithuanian citizen. Eventually her captor was deported but ZV was herself picked up for cannabis possession, detained and served with a deportation order. The case was a judicial review challenge to the legality of the deportation order and her detention, among other things.

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ZV succeeded on the ground of challenge relating to unlawful detention only. Mr Justice Garnham concluded that she was detained unlawfully for two periods. One ran for 15 days after ZV’s transfer to Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre:

The Secretary of State accepts there was a failure to carry out a Rule 34 examination in the period from 29 July to 13 August 2017 and that that failure rendered the detention unlawful. In my judgment, the suggestion that damages for that period need not be more than simply nominal is unfounded. One of the reasons why no Reasonable Grounds Decision was taken during that period is said to be the ‘absence of the Competent Authority on annual leave’. That must be a reference to the official within the competent Authority with responsibility for the Claimant’s case. In my judgment, that cannot possibly be a good excuse.

The other ran for 30 days after ZV received a positive reasonable grounds decision (i.e. the Home Office accepted that she probably was a victim of trafficking) and was approved for release, but wasn’t freed:

there had been a prolonged period of administrative detention of an individual in respect of whom, on 4 October 2017, there were found to be reasonable grounds for believing she was a victim of trafficking. Action 7 in the VMS guidance directs early release at this point “unless in the particular circumstances their detention can be justified on grounds of public order.” On 12 October 2017, the detention review supported release. The following day the Claimant’s release referral was approved. Yet she was still not released.

In the light of the history of this case, there was an obligation on the Secretary of State, in my judgment, urgently to take the steps necessary to effect her release. I can detect no such urgency. On the contrary, the impression with which I am left is of a marked reluctance to complete the necessary process…

In my view, given the history, the Claimant should have been released by no later than 14 October 2017.

ZV was not actually released until 30 November, so I’m not sure why this second period of unlawful detention is only calculated at 30 days. If the answer comes out of a closer reading of the judgment, leave a comment below and I’ll update the post.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.