Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law
Same day removals condemned
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Further to my alerter post on this last month, the judgment is now available in the damning Third Country removals case on children. It is called R (on the application of T) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 435 (Admin). As expected, the judgment is scathing. It also very strongly suggests that UKBA re-think their no-notice removals policy, which has spread to an increasing number of cases in recent months:
5. I have no doubt whatever that the manner of removal, done as it was on the same day without any opportunity for the minor to contact any lawyer or indeed any social worker or anyone else who may be able to assist, was unlawful. Indeed, it seems to me at the moment that the contrary is simply not capable of any sensible argument. The sooner the same day removal is reconsidered and hopefully abolished, the better. Apart from anything else, it goes totally against the Home Office arrangement with this court and agreement that no one will be removed unless 3 days opportunity is given for advice to be sought and contact to be made with a lawyer. Detention may not generally be desirable, and clearly is not. However, there may be circumstances where there is a real and appropriate fear that if warned that removal is going to take place within 3 days the individual will abscond. If there is such a concern then, as it seems to me, the interests of the child in being able to contact advisers must prevail over the question of detention, which after all need not be in a severe unit, if I may put it that way. There are surely arrangements that can be made that any such detention is, for example in a Local Authority secure accommodation, or some secure accommodation which the Home Office could arrange. I can see no conceivable justification for same day removals in the sort of the circumstances that we have seen in these two cases.
Ministers and senior civil servants at UKBA do not understand what is meant by ‘the rule of law’ and they do not understand that it is not something that can be selectively toyed with. Either they do not understand it or, more worryingly, they perfectly well understand it and don’t give a damn. There is undoubtedly a culture of institutional unlawfulness, to coin a phrase.
It’s just not good enough. What does it take for them to realise that acting unlawfully is a bad idea? Sadly, this case of T provides a partial answer. It is considered perfectly acceptable to wrench a child away from her foster carers with no warning and turn her loose on the streets of Italy to find her own shelter with an unknown man and perhaps return to a life on the street of abuse and prostitution. I don’t really see how the officials responsible can entirely blame Ministers for day to day operational decisions like this one.
Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.
Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.