British court rules fast-track deportations illegal
A controversial British government practice of "fast-tracking" the deportation of failed asylum-seekers is unlawful, the High Court in London ruled on Monday.
People facing deportation from Britain are generally given 72 hours' notice of their imminent removal, allowing them time to launch last-minute legal challenges.
But since 2007, some exceptions have been introduced for certain categories of failed asylum-seekers to allow same-day, late-night or early-morning removals.
This policy failed to ensure that those ordered out of Britain were "able to obtain legal advice in the time available before they are removed," Judge Stephen Silber told the High Court.
Delivering his ruling in a case brought by charity Medical Justice, the judge added that the right of access to justice was an important constitutional right.
A spokesman for the Home Office, which manages immigration issues in Britain, said it was "disappointed" with the court's judgment and would be launching an appeal.
The policy was "an important element" in the management of deportation cases, he said.
Home Office information indicates that the fast-tracking policy was applied in 145 cases from March 2007 to May 2010.
© 2010 AFP