A asylum seeker who arrived in the UK on a small boat and was subsequently removed by Priti Patel, Home Secretary, to France must be brought back to the UK within the next 14 days.
In the ruling published on Tuesday, which was also the day Priti Patel launched her nationality and borders bill which is hoped will make it easier to remove asylum seekers who arrive in small boats, Mr Justice Wall ordered that the home secretary use her ‘best endeavours’ to bring back the 38 year old Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur.
AA, who can only be known by these initials, passed through Libya, where he says he was sold into slavery and tortured when he was en route to Europe after escaping persecution in his home country. Expert reports submitted to the high court found that he had nine of the 11 indicators of trafficking and scarring and other indicators of torture.
The asylum seeker arrived in a small boat from France on 4 June 2020 and claimed asylum. He was however, sent back to France on 12 August 2020, where he was left destitute and homeless and told to leave the country within a month.
He was found to have been subjected to a shortened asylum screening interview on arrival in the UK, a departure from the previous policy to ask questions such as ‘please outline your journey to the UK’ which could identify information such as transit through Libya where many asylum seekers are enslaved.
The judge ordered that he be brought back to the UK so that his trafficking claim can be thoroughly investigated. It was not investigated by officials prior to his forced removal from the UK due to the way he was asked questions during his Home Office interview.
Wall said: “It is accepted by the defendant (Priti Patel) that these entries do not necessarily record the answers actually given by interviewees but were at times completed by immigration officers from other information in their possession. It is to say the least, an unfortunate way to record this information”.
The judgement adds that proper arguments can be made that it was unlawful for the home secretary to have in place “a secret policy that went against the terms of her published policy”.
The judge continued to say he was ‘troubled’ that when AA disclosed he had been tortured this was not followed up. He was given a medical appointment to assess his torture claims but the date was for after he had been deported from the UK.
Maria Thomas, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, who represented AA welcomed the judgement” and said: “It is likely that there are many other individuals in a similar situation who were unlawfully removed and now face destitution, homelessness and the risk of being returned to a country where they are at risk of serious harm or even death”.
The Home Office has been approached for a comment.