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Immigration bail hearings: still a travesty


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The Bail Observation Project has published its second report on immigration bail hearings in the First-tier Tribunal. The critical tenor of the report is revealed by its title: Still a Travesty: Justice in Immigration Bail Hearings.

still-a-travestyBetween February and October 2012, 24 lay volunteers observed 212 bail hearings in Taylor House, Hatton Cross, Newport and Birmingham. The report provides an interesting qualitative and quantitative analysis of the conduct and management these hearings.

For those with experience of representing applicants in immigration bail hearings, it will not be a surprise to discover that the report’s findings are overwhelmingly negative:

There was substantial variation in the conduct of the hearings and a disturbing lack of consistency in approach and process. There was much disparity between judges. A standard was set by those who maintained their independence, treated all the parties in court with respect and ensured that the process was understood, that interpreting was appropriate and comprehensive and who actively guided those applicants who had no legal representative. However, this was not a common standard. In many instances, the judge did not seem to act independently, but accepted the Home Office case as outlined in the bail summary without question, did not give adequate time for interpreting or help those applicants without legal representation. Some judges were described by observers variously as hectoring or even ranting and rude.

Only one of the recommendations of the first report, published in 2011, was implemented (the issuing of new guidance for judges).  In order for justice to be done and be seen to be done in immigration bail hearings, it is vital that a greater number of the recommendations of the second report are followed.

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Picture of Bijan Hoshi

Bijan Hoshi

Bijan is a barrister practicing in public law and human rights at Garden Court Chambers. He undertakes work in all areas of immigration, asylum and nationality law.


5 Responses

  1. Yes. excellent project – and I wonder if they have mentioned the fact that barristers will queue up with excuses for an adjournment when they discover they are going to be faced with one of these harsh judges? In the last week or two I have known one person(already detained for two years) refused because the video link did not work so the judge accepted the word of the Home Office (Why did he not adjourn the hearing and insist that the next time the man should be brought in person to court?) and another who had already been declared not fit to fly, who was refused and told that of course in the unlikely event that his JR application would be accepted, he could apply again. These sort of judges have a terrible effect on the morale of detainees and it would not be an exaggeration to say that they can contribute to suicidal feelings. I am a lay person but it seems to me that they often go too far in attempting to judge the immigration case of the applicant rather than looking at risk.

  2. Not a surprise there was a Bail Refusal last week where the IJ wrote that because applicant had absconded he was able evade the restrictions of electronic tagging!!

  3. That is the true and nothing but the truth,Because I myself have been denied bail on 10 occasions and am still held in Colnbrook detention centre, Am from zimbabwe and there are no forced deportation but the tribunal judges tell me that i should volunteer to return back to zimbabwe. Its nuts because the judges have already made a decision well before I EVEN ENTER THE COURT ROOM,i ave no solicitor i have been in detention for 3years now,MY LAST BAIL WAS IN MARCH 2013. ITS CRAZY.