A high court judge yesterday granted a temporary reprieve to 40 asylum seekers due to be returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of August.
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal is currently considering fresh evidence of maltreatment and imprisonment of individuals removed to the DRC, but is not expected to reach a decision until 17 September at the earliest. The case will inform the country guidance used to assess claims from all nationals of the DRC.
Justice Collins, who heard the case yesterday, ruled that it was unreasonable to remove Congolese asylum seekers back to the Congo until the new evidence had been assessed and a decision reached.
He said: “Difficult decisions have to be made. But you are playing with people’s lives and if you get it wrong the decision may affect whether a person lives or dies or whether they are dealt with in an appalling fashion.”
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This is a welcome ruling that reflects basic common sense. Sending people back to the DRC while evidence is under consideration that could show it may put their lives at risk is positively dangerous.
“It is astounding that the government even attempted to remove people before they knew for sure it was safe. This case should never have come to court.”