The court of appeal has ruled against the Home Office, after a 27-year-old woman was unlawfully removed from the UK in 2013. Caught up in what is now deemed an unlawful system for detaining and deporting migrants in the country, the woman, known as PN, has been given the green light to complete her asylum application. By Michael Delaney.
(TW: references of sexual violence)
Efficiency over ethics
PN was detained in 2013, when she was seeking asylum in the UK. She was persecuted for being a lesbian in her home country of Uganda.
A system known as “detained fast track” operated at the time. In essence, asylum seekers were detained while their applications were processed. The DFT was designed for asylum claims that were considered suitable for a quick decision.
However, in practice this meant decisions were made without full knowledge of an individual’s situation. As a result, vulnerable people with complex cases, including victims of torture, trafficking, gender-based violence and homophobic persecution, were regularly detained on the DFT.
The 7 year battle
As a consequence of the quick decision, PN was deported back to Uganda.
She was the only one of over 10,000 asylum seekers to be deported under the system.
In her testimony, PN described how she was forced to keep her sexuality concealed when she was returned to Uganda. She was also subjected to gang rape, and as a result has given birth to her son who is now 18 months old
Over 7 years, PN worked to appeal against the decision made before flying back to the UK in September of 2019.
The organisation, Movement for Justice, supported PN through the case.
Karen Doyle of MfJ said: “This decision is the culmination of almost seven years of struggle for PN, for our fight to bring her back after her unlawful removal under fast track.
“It is a victory for PN, for the movement, for all those who suffered under fast track and for LGBT asylum seekers who are routinely disbelieved. She has shown incredible courage and will to survive under the most difficult of circumstances, she is an inspiration to so many.”
PN is also expected to receive compensation for her unlawful detention at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, and will be allowed to proceed with her asylum application.
Want to help?
The organisation, Detention Action, were one of many to campaign against DFT.
Detention Action provide support “practical and emotional support” to those going through the asylum seeker process. They employ ‘experts by experience’, an initiative that uses people with lived experience to work in a sector and provide a level of support that only someone who’s been through it all could.