The Government has been ordered to pay damages to a 42-year-old Sudanese rape and torture victim after she was unlawfully detained for 37 days.
Mr Justice Collins deemed the unlawful detention of the woman, who was claiming asylum in the UK after suffering repeated rape and torture in Sudan, as “utterly unreasonable and truly disgraceful.”
Five doctors had agreed that the woman was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, the Home Secretary’s own doctor advised that the woman’s health would be ‘injuriously affected by continued detention or any conditions of detention’, and raised concerns that she was a victim of torture. The Home Secretary ignored that evidence.
Instead, this woman (known as ‘IKM’) was inappropriately accosted at home with handcuffs despite her known vulnerability and accepted record of total compliance, inappropriately detained in a police station for two days and then transferred to a detention centre. She has never absconded nor had she ever committed any criminal offence.
Upon her release from the detention centre, she was hospitalised for a period of three weeks due to weakness, malnourishment and retraumatisation.
The Court also quashed the Home Office’s third country certificate preventing IKM from having her asylum claim determined in the United Kingdom, a claim described as “cast-iron”.
The case sits within the context of the Home Office’s wider draconian detention practices (and the legal challenges to such detention) regarding vulnerable asylum seekers, including the detention of pregnant women and victims of trafficking.
At a time of narrowing access to justice, this case serves as a salient reminder once more as to the importance of legal aid and what might be perpetuated in its absence.