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The Illusion of ‘out of country’ appeals – A case study

12 February 2016

The AIRE Centre has seen first-hand how ineffective the ‘out of country’ appeals provisions are for some of those most in need. Here, Legal Project Manager Emma Lough, shares a case study.

 

While EEA nationals have free movement rights to travel between and pursue economic activity in member states, the UK Borders Act 2007 introduced automatic deportation provisions for individuals given prison sentences of more than 12 months. Since July 2014, amendments to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 also remove the right of EEA nationals to appeal deportation decisions from within the UK. This means that anyone without British citizenship, irrespective of their length of residence in the UK, given a prison sentence of over 12 months will be immediately deported. They are left with a notional right to appeal; one that is, in practice, next to impossible to exercise from abroad.  

This week, Anna*, a nineteen year old Portuguese woman who was deported in August 2015, was finally returned to the UK after the Home Office acknowledged it had no grounds on which to justify her removal. During her time in Portugal, Anna became homeless and fell ill, requiring surgery in hospital.

Anna first came to the UK at the age of four, has been educated here and prior to prison lived with her parents and siblings, who were all born in the UK. At 18, she entered an abusive relationship, during which she was arrested and convicted of possession of an illegal substance and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

The 12-month sentence triggered automatic removal proceedings and Anna was returned to Portugal under the government’s new certification powers, despite protestations that she had no means of supporting herself if returned. In her absence, The AIRE Centre worked to prepare her out of county appeal, contacting her previous schools, employers, family members and local church. Anna’s homelessness made it difficult to maintain regular contact and we were unable to arrange a video link for her to give evidence at her own appeal hearing, despite repeated efforts to do so.

At her hearing, the Home Office withdrew the case, acknowledging that they had no justifiable case for deportation, despite having reviewed the evidence months prior to Anna’s removal. The Home Office nonetheless sought permission to appeal the decision to the Upper Tribunal, further delaying the final outcome of the appeal.

The Home Office also failed to formally record the judgment, which resulted in Anna being forcibly removed from a flight back to the UK on two occasions without explanation. 

 Anna arrived back this week, having been outside the UK for over 7 months, made homeless and without adequate medical support. However to date, the out of country appeals process has been deemed fair and lawful. I doubt Anna would think so.   

 

The AIRE Centre’s EEA Women in Prison Project is working to highlight the injustices experienced by women like Anna, provide then with much needed legal support that is otherwise unavailable and to litigate to improve the law on removals and appeals.

Should you have clients with similar issues regarding out of country appeals, please get in touch with Emma Lough, AIRE Centre EEA Women in Prison, Legal Project Manager. 

 

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*name of client was changed for confidentiality purposes

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