UK: Home Office ordered to bring back returned Ugandan asylum applicant

Monday, June 24, 2019

On 24 June 2019, England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) held that an asylum seeker who had been returned to Uganda in 2013 must be brought back to the United Kingdom to have her asylum claim heard.

The applicant was detained in the UK on 21 July 2013 on the ground that she had overstayed a visa. The following day, she applied for asylum and a decision was made to hear her claim through the 'Detained Fast Track' process. The applicant’s claim for asylum was on grounds of her sexual orientation as a lesbian and that she feared return to Uganda where she was persecuted. Her application was rejected on 6 August 2013 and the applicant appealed two days later as per the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Fast Track Procedure) Rules 2005 (“the 2005 Rules”), which provided short time frames for the appeals process.

Following a 14-day adjournment, on 30 August 2013, the First-Tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the asylum claim was not credible and further requests to appeal were dismissed. On 8 October 2013, the applicant’s representatives sought to submit a new application for asylum as evidence had been received from Uganda. This application was refused as it was held it was not a new claim.

The applicant remained in detention from 21 July 2013 until her removal on 12 December 2013. The removal of the applicant was delayed on several occasions due to the state of her health. On 12 December 2013, the applicant was removed to Uganda where she was at the time of hearing. 

In examining the lawfulness of the determination of the First-Tier Tribunal, the judge recognised that it had previously been found that the 2005 Rules, and the proceeding 2014 Rules, were unlawful. In the instant case, the judge recognized that the asylum claim necessarily involved obtaining evidence from external sources and that the timescales envisaged by the 2005 Rules did not provide sufficient time to enable the claimant, who was in detention, to obtain such evidence. The judge also recognized that the applicant provided evidence relatively quickly after the appeal hearing. He thus found that there had been a procedural unfairness in the process for determining the applicant’s appeal.

With regard to appropriate remedy, the judge held that the Secretary of State for the Home Department should facilitate the applicant’s return to the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal. The judge recognised that the claim regards a woman who identifies as lesbian and on the grounds of which she faces persecution in Uganda. Thus, if her claim for asylum were to be subsequently successful, she would face a real risk in the interim.  

Concerning the lawfulness of the detention, the judge held that her detention while appealing the decision in her asylum claim was unlawful due to the lack of transparency as to why she was detained and the Secretary of State’s failure to comply with the ‘Haridal Singh’ principles. Further to this, the Judge held that the Secretary of State failed to prove that it was necessary to detain the applicant if the unlawful policy had not been applied.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.


Effective remedy (right to)
Procedural guarantees