European Court of Human Rights rules lack of a time-limit for immigration detention is not a human rights breach

In a judgment handed down today, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the lack of a time-limit for immigration detention in the UK is not a human rights breach.

The applicant, Mr J.N., is an Iranian national who was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for indecent assault and served with a deportation order. On completion of his sentence, J.N. remained in immigration detention for a total of 55 months, notably from March 2005 to December 2007 and from January 2008 to December 2009.

Relying on Article 5 § 1 (f) of the European Convention on Human Convention (right to liberty and security), Mr J.N. complained about the excessive length of his detention as well as the system of immigration detention in the UK, alleging that the time-limits on the maximum period of immigration detention had been unclear and that there had been no automatic judicial review.

The Court found in its judgment that the system of immigration detention in the UK did not, in principle, breach Article 5, as it permits the detainee to challenge the lawfulness and Convention compliance of his or her ongoing detention at any time.

Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), who intervened in the case, said in response on Twitter that it was disappointed with ruling, adding that it believes time limits and oversight are fundamental safeguards against arbitrary detention.

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