Asylum seekers suing UK over illegal detention

Asylum seekers have launched a group legal action against the British government over allegations of unlawful detention between 2014 and 2017. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Asylum seekers suing UK over illegal detention

  • They include Iranian, Sudanese victims of torture
  • Thousands of other asylum seekers in Britain could be entitled to make similar claims

LONDON: Asylum seekers have launched a group legal action against the British government over allegations of unlawful detention between 2014 and 2017.
Members of the group, which includes Sudanese and Iranian victims of torture, have demanded compensation after they were arrested and detained by the UK Border Force under Home Office guidance and the Dublin III regulation, which states that refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country in which they arrive.
The Dublin III regulation used to justify the deportations can be used only if there is a significant risk of the asylum seeker absconding and if their deportation is proportionate. 
The claimants include an Iranian national arrested as a political prisoner and tortured in his home country, and a Sudanese national who was arrested and tortured following charges of loyalty to an opposition party.
Their lawyer Waleed Sheikh, from London firm Leigh Day, said: “Many of our clients are vulnerable individuals who were forced to flee their countries not out of choice, but due to the most horrific experiences which most of us in the UK will fortunately never witness, let alone experience.
Sheikh added: “Having made the brave and perilous journey from across the world, in the hope of finding safety and a secure future in a free country, they were instead put into detention centers.”
He said it is likely that thousands of other asylum seekers in Britain are entitled to make similar claims, “but it is difficult to trace them. Some are now abroad and many do not speak English. And there is no obligation for the Home Office to contact those who were held illegally.”
The Home Office may have to pay between £8,000 ($10,400) and £10,000 for each month a claimant was held.
The payouts could increase based on factors such as a claimant’s health during unlawful detention.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The individuals in question were only detained to facilitate removal to a safe European country. We took immediate corrective action in March 2017 to ensure that we remain able to detain those in a similar position, who we determine are at risk of absconding.”


Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

Updated 28 November 2020

Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

  • The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference

GLASGOW: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said she had “never been more certain” of achieving independence, with Britain’s final departure from EU trading arrangements set to precede key Scottish elections in the months ahead.

The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference that the prospect of a break between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been closer.

“Independence is in clear sight — and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it,” she said.

Sturgeon and the SNP have argued for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the party’s overwhelming victory among Scottish seats in Britain’s 2019 general election.

Now she hopes that a further resounding win in May elections to the Edinburgh parliament will hand her party a mandate for a second bid to quit the UK.

Opinion polls in recent months have shown that a majority of public opinion in Scotland now supports independence.

The country chose to remain part of the four-nation United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum on the issue.

But Scots later voted by a thumping majority in 2016 to remain in the European Union, a referendum the Leave side won by a narrow margin when taking the rest of Britain into account.

Since then, “we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election and support for independence has risen, it has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,” said Sturgeon.

“Who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures? We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources.

“Let us reach out to all Scotland like never before,” she added.

Sturgeon urged her party to “demonstrate ... that Scotland is ready to take our place in the global family of independent nations,” saying it was “now a nation on the brink of making history.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rebuffed calls from for a another referendum, saying that the 2014 vote settled the question for a generation.

Earlier this month, Scottish independence campaigners seized on comments by the prime minister in which he said the creation of a devolved parliament in Edinburgh had been “a disaster.”

In response Sturgeon said the only way to protect the parliament was “with independence.”

On Thursday, she said a referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the next parliamentary session.

“The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they and future generations deserve,” Sturgeon said on Saturday.