UK’s deportation of Kenyan drug dealer before appeal ruled breach of human rights

UK Supreme Court
UK Supreme Court building. Photo: Cary Bass-Deschenes (used under the Creative Commons licence)

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to deport foreign criminals without long and expensive appeals.

Supreme Court judges ruled that under European human rights laws, a pair of drug dealers from Kenya and Jamaica should not have been thrown out of Britain before they had a chance to appeal.

The decision, a test case over Kenyan Kevin Kinyanjui Kiarie, and Jamaican Courtney Byndloss, found that both men were removed from Britain before they could mount an effective appeal.

Kiarie was jailed for two years in 2014 for dealing hard drugs, and Byndloss was sentenced to three years for a similar offence in 2013.

The ruling undermines the 2014 Immigration Act that introduced a ‘deport first, appeal later’ system which was designed to speed serious criminals on their way out of Britain and only allow them to appeal only when back home.

The pair had a previous appeal in front of UK Court of Appeal judges rejected in 2015. 

That judgment was seen as a strong endorsement of the new Section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act.

But on Tuesday, the five Supreme Court justices ruled that the system was unfair to Kiarie and Byndloss because was because they could not appeal effectively once they were out of England.

The ruling said deportees could not give appeal evidence by video link from abroad because the cost and practicalities of doing so presented insurmountable barriers, breaching Article Eight of the European human rights charter.

This, the judges said, guarantees respect for private and family life.

‘The proper analysis is that the Home Secretary has failed to establish that it is fair.

“For their appeals to be effective, they would need at least to be afforded the opportunity to give live evidence.

“They would almost certainly not be able to do so in person. The question is: as a second best, would they be able to do so on screen? ‘The evidence of the Home Secretary is that in such appeals applications to give evidence from abroad are very rare.

“Why? Is it because an appellant has no interest in giving oral evidence in support of his appeal? I think not. It is because the financial and logistical barriers to his giving evidence on screen are almost insurmountable.”

– Lord Wilson, Supreme Court Judge

The case is the third reverse in just a week for the Government’s attempts to deport foreign criminals. On Monday, an Al Qaeda terrorist caught with manuals detailing how to attack nightclubs and airports was given #250,000 in legal aid to fight deportation to Jordan. Also this week, Wilfred Mosira, a sex offender convicted of offences with a 13-year-old girl, won his fight to be allowed to remain in the UK, despite it being proved he would be in no danger if returned to Zimbabwe.

Between 2014 and the end of last year 1,175 foreign criminals were deported under the Immigration Act on the authority of deportation certificates issued by the Home Secretary.