Home Kent News Damages for refugee ‘falsely imprisoned’ in Dover who couldn’t access HIV meds

Damages for refugee ‘falsely imprisoned’ in Dover who couldn’t access HIV meds

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Original article from Kent Live

Damages will be awarded to a man found to have been "falsely imprisoned" in an immigration detention facility in Dover.

It meant he went four days without vital HIV medication that he was supposed to take daily – a situation described by his doctor as "very serious indeed".

High Court judges ruled his detention at Kent Intake Unit in Dover resulted in breaches of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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The Intake Unit has previously featured in an "extremely disturbing" report which found it to be unsuitable for lengthy periods of detention.

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The claimant, known as CSM, had been deported from the UK at the age of 25, despite living here from the age of four.

His father had arrived in 1996 a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But after CSM pleaded guilty to charges of attempted robbery and possession of a firearm and ammunition in 2013, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The Home Office used special laws allowing deportation of serious criminals, despite CSM having lived here from a young age.

The family room at Kent Intake Unit, with a single mattress placed on the floor.

He had also contracted HIV as a child, meaning he required daily antiretroviral medications for life.

After CSM returned to the UK illegally in 2018, he lodged an asylum claim based on being detained, interrogated and tortured on his return to Congo.

When CSM lodged it, the Home Office took the decision to detain him given his immigration and criminal history.

But a High Court judge has ruled that they made several errors while doing so.

After the asylum interview, staff told CSM he would be transferred to the immigration removal centre at Harmondsworth, but that they could not take him there unless he had his HIV medication.

Efforts were made to contact a sexual health clinic on the first day (August 8) but they had actually needed a proper GP appointment.

Yvette Cooper MP has heaped pressure on the Home Office over the Kent Intake Unit in Dover

After finally getting one, the medication arrived the following evening and he was transferred to the IRC at Harmondsworth.

There he was seen by a male nurse but for some reason he was not given his medication, and it was not recorded in any notes.

The next day, August 10, the claimant said that he went to the "medication hatch" he was supposed to collect and take it from, but the medication was not there.

He was not given his HIV medication until about 4pm on Sunday August 11, some 4 and a half days after he said he had taken his last dose.

The risk associated with this gap was highlighted in two letters from his treating consultant Dr Rosenvinge.

The first, dated March 23, 2018, said: "[the Claimant] requires antiretrovirals lifelong. He has to take the medication at exactly the same time every day. If he has any interruption to his treatment his immune system may become severely depressed and it would place him at risk of severe opportunistic infections and death."

The second letter, dated 20 August 2019, said. "I am really quite concerned that when he was detained a week ago, he went without his HIV medications for four days. This is very serious indeed.

"This could easily mean that his HIV virus rebounds and that he may develop further resistance to his medication which makes it more difficult to manage in the future."

The judge however ruled that medical harm had not been proven, and therefore the claimant was “entitled to declaratory relief but not, in the absence of evidence of harm, to compensatory damages”.

The judge did however award damages for “false imprisonment”.

A number of “public law” procedures were not followed, they said, including not laying out exceptional circumstances for holding someone for more than 24 hours in what is supposed to only be a short-term holding facility in Dover.

The damages due related to a specific four-day period at the end of the claimant’s detention, where delays in obtaining information from the probation service resulted in an additional four days’ detention.

Original Article