You Have To Tell Someone Why They’ve Been Locked Up

This is a case from 2008. It’s about the rights people have to be told why they are being detained.

In December 2000 Doctor Saadi fled Iraq because he had treated and facilitated the escape of three fellow members of the Iraqi Communist Party. He arrived into Heathrow on 30 December 2000 and immediately claimed asylum. The immigration officer contacted the nearest detention facility, but there was no room there, so Dr. Saadi was granted “temporary admission” to stay at the hotel of his choice and return to the airport the following morning. On 31 December 2000 he reported back and was again granted temporary admission until the following day. When he came back, for the third time, granted temporary admission, until the following day when he was taken to Oakington Detention facility.

Dr. Saadi was detained for 12 days, despite never being told why he was being detained or posing any risk of abscondment. Originally, a UK court found in favour of Dr. Saadi and stated that it was not permissible under the Convention to detain, solely for purposes of administrative efficiency, an asylum seeker who had followed the proper procedures and presented no risk of absconding. However, this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals. Dr. Saadi eventually took his case to Strasbourg which found the UK in breach of not informing Dr Saadi about the reasons for his arrest.

This was an important ruling in relation to current UK detention practice. The UK is the only country in Europe which effectively has no time limit on how long an Asylum Seeker can be kept in detention. And, the Detained Fast Track system which was meant to negate long stays in detention was recently ruled structurally unfair and suspended by the UK government. Human rights ensure that if you are ever arrested or detained you have the right to know why you have been locked up.

This story is a short summary of a legal decision. You can read the full text here

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