UK: Home Office must help woman unfairly deported to Uganda to return

The Home Office has been ordered to help a woman deported to Uganda six years ago to return to Britain after a high court judge ruled that the handling of her case was “procedurally unfair”.

If the judgment stands, the woman may become the first deportee whose case was processed through fast-track rules operational between 2005 and 2015 to return to the UK and appeal against the decision to deport her.

The ruling could encourage similar appeals from thousands of people whose asylum claims were treated under the same system.

Movement for Justice, a human rights group helping to support the woman in Uganda, said the Home Office was likely to appeal against the court’s decision. Government lawyers sought “permission to appeal” following the verdict on 26 June, a move rejected by the judge within 24 hours. The government could now take the case to an appeal court, to block the woman’s return.The woman, referred to in court documents as “PN”, cannot be named because her sexuality exposes her to serious risk of persecution in Uganda, where she now lives.

The fast-track appeals system introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 2005 gave appellants just 14 days to gather evidence for their claims to asylum in the UK.

The system was introduced at a time when the Labour party faced increasing pressure to clamp down on immigration after its open-door policy resulted in a rapid rise in immigration to the UK. It was kept in place by successive governments until 2015.

In June 2015, Mr Justice Nicol ruled that the system was “structurally unfair” because of the “abbreviated timetable” and the “the restricted case management powers available to the judge”. That verdict was upheld in appeals court. More than 10,000 cases were decided in the period when the fast-track appeals system was operational. Read more via Guardian