The UK High Court has granted an interim injunction preventing individuals from being removed or deported by the UK’s Home Office without notice.
The judgement suspended the UK’s Removal Notice Window (RNW) policy which gives migrants subject to the threat of deportation a short period of between 72 hours and 7 days to identify any new grounds which might support their case to stay in the country. Once this time expires, the individual can be deported without warning within the next 3 months.
Prior to 2015, there had been a legal obligation to use “removal directions” specifying the date, time and flight number of any deportation. Although the Home Office issues “courtesy letters” containing this information in some cases, there is now no obligation to do so, apart from cases where the removal window cannot be used.
Medical Justice, an organisation that assists migrants suffering mistreatment in immigration detention, is judicially reviewing the policy and sought an interim injunction to suspend deportations until the case is heard. Medical Justice argues that the period for raising new grounds with the Home Office is too short to progress through the next steps of the process, such as engage a lawyer, gather evidence, await the decision of the Home Office and apply for judicial review, if necessary.
Medical Justice presented evidence of individuals with grounds to challenge removal that were at risk of being deported without opportunity to put forward their case. The High Court found, “on the face of those case studies there appears to be strong reason for a real concern that the policy unjustifiably impedes access to justice.”
The interim injunction will last until the summer when a full hearing for the case will take place. Until then, the injunction prevents the Home Office from removing or deporting individuals without notice as to date and time. The decision meant that the Home Office immediately had to cancel 69 removals scheduled for the days immediately following the decision being handed down.