UK judge protests detention of male Romani refugees

02 April 1998

The wire service Press Association reported on December 3 that a senior British judge had expressed concern over the „apparent policy” of detaining male heads of Romani families as it is feared that they might resist deportation if their claims to political asylum in the UK are unsuccessful. Mr Justice Kay stated at London’s High Court that it was „arbitrary and unfair” that individuals were selected for detention by the Home Office immigration authorities „simply on the basis of their sex.” The judge said he was „troubled” by the issue when he considered the case of a Czech Rom named Andrej Ferko, held in Rochester prison, Kent, since arriving by ferry at Dover last October. Mr Ferko’s wife and 12-year-old daughter were housed in London. Mr Ferko was applying for leave to seek judicial review of Home Secretary Jack Straw’s decision to keep him in custody, and the further decision of a special adjudicator not to grant him bail pending his appeal against a refusal of asylum. The judge adjourned the court for a week on December 3 to give Home Office lawyers time to investigate and explain detention procedures to the court. Mr Justice Kay stated that, „One of the things troubling me here is the apparent policy at the moment of locking up the husband and letting the wife through when the two people are in an identical position.” Mr Robin Tam, a representative of the Home Office, stated that he had been „taken by surprise” by the point raised by Mr Justice Kay. The Home Office subsequently responded by submitting an affidavit stating that they saw it as reasonable to detain the male head of the family, since in Britain male heads of families often apply for asylum with their families listed as dependants.

(Press Association)


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