Court rules on asylum seekers' rights claim

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The Independent Online

The High Court was today giving a ruling which could result in the release of hundreds of asylum seekers from an immigration centre.

Mr Justice Collins, in London, was ruling on an application by four Iraqi Kurds who were held at Oakington in Cambridgeshire.

They claim that their detention – even for a few days while it was ascertained whether they were genuine refugees – was a breach of their human rights and unlawful.

Three of the men have since been granted refugee status.

People sent to Oakington, a former RAF barracks which opened in March last year, are supposed to be held for seven days and are given speedy initial decisions on their asylum applications.

The Home Office argues that Oakington is a reception centre rather than a detention facility and that the holding of asylum seekers there is lawful.

The Kurds have argued that there was no reason to believe that they would abscond and that the Government had no right to deprive them of their liberty.

If the judge rules against the Home Office, the Government will appeal and a hearing could take place within a week.

If it loses on appeal, it faces the prospect of huge compensation claims.

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