Court of Appeal rules thousands of asylum seekers may have been unlawfully detained

The Court of Appeal has ruled that thousands of people may have been unlawfully held in immigration removal centres in recent years.

In a case brought by five asylum seekers who were challenging the provisions of the Dublin III regulations, judges ruled that detained people could not be held indefinitely.

Asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first country in which they arrive. If they arrive in the UK, but the Home Office finds out they first passed through another safe country, it can send them back there.

They may be locked up indefinitely as discussions between countries take place, a practice now ruled unlawful.

Krisha Prathepan, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who represented two of the five men, told The Guardian: “This landmark judgment has huge implications for those who were detained under the provision in the Dublin regulation [Dublin III].

“It is deeply concerning that the Home Office’s unlawful conduct may have led to the detention of so many people without any lawful basis. In effect, the Home Office has unlawfully detained hundreds or even thousands of individuals seeking international protection.”

The ruling stated: “There is no doubt that all the necessary ingredients for the common law cause of action for false imprisonment are satisfied in the case of each of the appellants.”

The Home Office said: “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and are carefully considering the next steps.”