Afghan asylum seeker wins damages over 'unlawful' detention


An Afghan asylum seeker who was profoundly affected by his unlawful detention has won £19, 250 damages from the Home Office.

Zia Ul Haque Tarakhil , who claimed he was 13 when he arrived alone in the UK  in May 2008 but was assessed as 15, was kept in immigration detention at Dover for 21 days between January 19 and February 9 2012.

He was granted discretionary leave to remain until July 2010 and initially lived in Folkestone with foster parents but then moved to a hostel to make room for others in greater need.

In January 2011, he witnessed the homicide of a friend during an affray at the hostel and was required by the police to give evidence for the prosecution at the trial that October. 

Judge Anthony Thornton, at London's High Court, said today that Mr Tarakhil's entire detention in 2012, which ended when he was granted temporary admission pending an appeal over his continued leave to remain, was "unjustified and unlawful".

"The claimant was never, between his arrival in the UK on May 19 2008 and his detention on January 19 2012 under any obligation to leave the UK and was not capable of being lawfully removed."

The Home Office had repeatedly failed to address the legal constraints to detaining him and persistently failed to explain why it was doing so despite his ongoing appeal process, said the judge.

It had failed to address Mr Tarakhil's status as a significant prosecution witness in a major trial and his ongoing involvement with that police operation or the fact that the first available charter flight back to Afghanistan was several weeks away.

Furthermore, it did not serve any admissible evidence and its records of the reasons for detention and continued detention were "sparsely and wholly inadequately documented".

Awarding £14,250 for wrongful detention and false imprisonment, the judge said that Mr Tarakhil was deeply shocked and profoundly affected by his detention.

His symptoms of anxiety and fear and clear signs of adjustment disorder warranted an additional award for personal injury of £3,000, while the "high handed" way he was treated throughout merited £2,000 aggravated damages.