A man from Sierra Leone challenged the lawfulness of his lengthy detention in an Immigration Detention Centre.
X arrived in the United Kingdom in 2003 in possession of a Sierra Leonean passport. He claimed asylum which was refused by the Home Office.
In 2005, Sierra Leone issued X with an emergency travel documents to facilitate his removal to Sierra Leone. In 2007, he was flown to Sierra Leone, however, on arrival he informed the immigration officials that he was in fact Sudanese. There was insufficient evidence to verify his nationality and he was returned back to the UK. The Home Office sought to remove him to Sierra Leone again, with the same outcome.
X finally admitted that he was from Sierra Leone. He was convicted for a failure to cooperate with his removal and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.
After serving his sentence, X became a foreign national prisoner and would be liable to be deported from the United Kingdom automatically.
Since October 2008, the Home Office reviewed X’s detention, finding that he had previously absconded, had no ties to the UK and had committed an offence.
The only reason he had not already been deported was because he had continuously disrupted process to remove him to Sierra Leone, and as Sierra Leone had accepted that he was from there, he could be removed within a short period.
In November 2009, Sierra Leone refused to validate another emergency travel documentation, but agreed to interview interview X. By January 2010 the Sierra Leonean authorities still had not issued the documentations to facilitate X’s travel and removal to Sierra Leone .
In March 2010, the documentation scheme was postponed.
In mid-May, the X was continued to be deemed unsuitable for release. After that, nothing was done to effect his removal.
On 10th September 2010 X was finally released from the Immigration Detention Centre.
X submitted that his detention between October 2008 and his release date on 10th September 2010 had been unlawful.
It was held by the Court that the Home Office could only detain X for the purpose of his removal. The period of detention should to be reasonable, and if it became apparent that the secretary of state would not be able to deport him within a reasonable time, the Home Office should not detain X. Until mid-May 2010, the detention had been lawful. It had been for the purpose of removal and nothing else.
His detention of 18 months had been caused by the his own conduct.
It was not until Sierra Leone postponed its authorisation of an emergency travel document that the removal could not be said to be within a reasonable time. Until that time, the secretary of state had used reasonable diligence to effect removal.
However, by 17 May 2010, it was obvious that the only possibility of removing X would be if Sierra Leone accepted him without signing an emergency travel document. That would depended upon whether, and when, officials visited him. At that point, the prospect of his removal was an uncertainty and in the distant future. It is at that point that X’s detention had become unlawful. He had therefore been detained unlawfully for a total of four months.