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Hostile Environment: Home Office faces lawsuit from woman whose baby died in its care

In the spring of 2020, a heavily pregnant woman from Angola began experiencing back pain and bleeding while living in the asylum accommodation in Croydon. Despite her repeated requests and obvious pain, staff refused to call an ambulance for her for several hours. By the time another resident was able to call for help, it was too late and her baby died.

Now, she is suing the Home Office for negligence and discrimination. Her lawyers are arguing that her case would never have happened if it were not for the hostile environment that empowers employees to treat asylum seekers poorly. The woman’s lawyer, Ugo Hayter, said:

Our client has experienced a catalogue of mistreatment, all linked to her being a woman, pregnant and black. Having finally managed to access help from the authorities, while heavily pregnant and bleeding, she experienced dehumanising treatment.

The hope is that this case will lead to a change in how pregnant people are treated by the asylum system. Pregnant asylum seekers are among the vulnerable populations placed in inadequate accommodation such as filthy hotel rooms and group accommodation centers. Besides the physical effects of this treatment, which often makes people fall ill, the Royal College of Psychiatrists argues that vulnerable groups are at an increased risk of depression and suicide due to the Home Office’s housing.

In more legal trouble for the Home Office, the High Court ruled that its restrictive approach to Windrush citizenship applications is “irrational.” The Court particularly struck down the “good character” clause, which only became part of UK law many years after most of the Windrush generation was already in the country, and was used to deny people citizenship for minor violations. People who have been rejected under the “good character” clause should reapply.

The Home Office’s deportations to Vietnam have also come under legal scrutiny. Several passengers on last week’s deportation flight may not have had adequate access to legal advice, and some may have been victims of trafficking.

via Are You Syrious

Photo: Protesters from Global Justice Now demonstrate outside the Home Office in London demanding an end to the Hostile Environment policy, ahead of parliamentary debate on the Windrush scandal, April 2018. By David Mirzoeff/Global Justice Now, published under CC BY 2.0.

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