High Court orders provision of accommodation for Covid-19 vulnerable Eritrean

On 15 July 2020 Mr Justice Holman ordered interim relief mandating the Secretary of State for the Home Department to provide accommodation to a Covid-19 vulnerable Eritrean refugee. The decision is now reported as R (on the application of SW) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 2118 (Admin).

In late March 2020 the Secretary of State undertook a review of immigration detention in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of his history of respiratory diseases SW was deemed to fall within the category of those most at risk from exposure to Covid-19. In addition, the Secretary of State accepted that SW could not be removed to Eritrea within a reasonable time. Having found that SW was eligible for bail accommodation under the ‘exceptional circumstances’ provisions of paragraph 9 Schedule 10 Immigration Act 2016, the Secretary of State also accepted that she had a duty to accommodate him. Nonetheless, despite having been granted bail by the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) SW remained in detention.  

SW sought an urgent order for his release and the provision of suitable accommodation. It was agreed that he required to be housed in self-contained accommodation because of his health vulnerabilities.

Mr Justice Holman found that SW had been detained ‘for far too long’ and his case was ‘particularly pressing’ due to the heightened risk to him of exposure to Covid-19. He considered that the Secretary of State had not acted with due diligence in finding suitable accommodation for SW. He further found that to find appropriate accommodation the Secretary of State may need to look beyond her contracted accommodation providers and any “public procurement” arguments cannot stand in the way of the Secretary of State’s duty to provide accommodation.

SW was represented by Agata Patyna instructed by Krisha Prathepan and Suzanne Abdulhadi of Duncan Lewis Solicitors (Harrow Branch).