Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex p Saadi & others [2001] EWCA Civ 1512

Human rights – detention – asylum seekers – proportionality

The Secretary of State’s fast-track procedure allowing asylum seekers to be detained at Oakington detention centre for a period not exceeding ten days whilst their applications were processed was not a breach of Article 5 of the Convention.

The applicants had successfully argued at first instance that their detention, for the sole purpose of effecting a speedy determination of asylum applications, was not permitted by article 5(1)(f) which provides an exception to the right to liberty where the lawful arrest or detention of a person is to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country, or the detention is of a person facing deportation or extradition. The judge also considered that even if article 5(1)(f) did apply to this case, the policy in force at Oakington was a disproportionate interference with the applicants’ rights.

Overturning that decision, the Court of Appeal held that article 5(1)(f) did indeed apply, allowing States to effect lawful arrest or detention in order to prevent the unauthorised entry of aliens; but any period of detention should not be unduly prolonged. The test of proportionality required consideration of the length of the period of detention against the background of the conditions of detention and relevant special circumstances. In this case, a detention period of about one week, given the need for speedy resolution of asylum claims in the context of a sharp rise in the volume of applications, was both reasonable and proportionate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.