ECHR rules on UK's unlimited immigration detention periods

20 May 2016 |

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the lack of a maximum time period for detention of immigrants in the UK is not an automatic human rights violation.

The ruling followed the specific case of an Iranian national, known as J.N. J.N. Came to the UK in 2003 but his claim for asylum was refused and after being convicted of indecent assault, he was issued a deportation order. However, when the man refused to sign a disclaimer consenting to be returned to Iran, he was left spending extensive periods in immigration detention.

J.N. was held for a total of 55 months between March 2005 and December 2007 and later from January 2008 to December 2009.

The European courts have now ruled that his detention between the period of January 2008 and September 2009 was a breach of his right to liberty. The decision was made after the court stated it was not convinced 'due diligence' was being used to pursue his deportation.

However, the ECHR confirmed that the UK system complies with Article 5 of the European law – the right to liberty and security of the person – despite the fact that there are no maximum time limits on deportation.

In the case of J.N., the violation of Article 5 was pinned on the authority for acting with a “woeful lack of energy and impetus”.