The secret world of immigration bail hearings uncovered


The secret world of immigration bail hearings uncovered

Review

Written by: Harmit Athwal


A new report by the Campaign to Close Campsfield on immigration bail hearings is a thorough piece of research but makes for very depressing reading.

The report, Immigration bail hearings: a travesty of justice? Observations from the public gallery, was written and researched by the Bail Observation project of the Campaign to Close Campsfield, a group that campaigns against Campsfield House removal centre in Kidlington near Oxford.

A group of eighteen volunteers attended and observed 115 bail hearings at four immigration courts across the country. The report sets out the findings in an accessible and jargon-free manner and makes numerous recommendations in relation to the conduct of hearings.

On reading the report it is clear how difficult it is for people held in detention (for whatever reason) to obtain bail without access to decent legal assistance. Only thirty-three people managed to obtain bail out of a possible 115. The report details the numerous obstacles which are erected to prevent people from obtaining bail, from poor interpreters (or none at all), failure to provide proper documentation, the use of technology which hinders hearings to arbitrary judgments and a lack of legal representation.

The authors shine a light on the secretive world of immigration courts which currently have no published guidelines and of which there is neither monitoring nor official records. Immigration judges are so ‘casual and dismissive’ that many cases appear to fail to start from a ‘presumption of liberty’.

This report should be recommended reading for all immigration judges and Home Office Presenting Officers. It is a timely intervention on behalf of the most vulnerable and rightless in the UK.

Related links

Download a copy of Immigration bail hearings: a travesty of justice? Observations from the public gallery here (pdf file, 1.7mb)

Campaign to Close Campsfield


Immigration bail hearings: a travesty of justice? Observations from the public gallery, Campaign to Close Campsfield, March 2011. For further information email: info@closecampsfield.org.uk.


The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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