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29 March 2001 Edition

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£2,000 bail set pending judicial review

When a court sets bail at £2,000 you might reasonably expect a serious criminal charge to be at issue. This is not so, however, in the case of asylum seekers.

A recent development in institutional racism in the 26 Counties has been the practice of setting an outrageous level of bail on asylum seekers who have won the right to judicial review. A judicial review of an asylum seeker's application for refugee status is the first and only way in which the application gets to be determined in a court of law rather than a tribunal appointed by the Department of Justice.

Yusseff Gamia Mobalaji has been imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail for the last month. He was arrested off the street for deportation. A judicial review was granted, but bail, for his release, was set at £2000 cash.

Yusseff is a young Nigerian. There is no criminal offence whatever in question. He is detained because he is an asylum seeker. Such conditions of bail represent an absolute violation of a person's human right to liberty, and his internationally recognised right to apply for asylum, and to have his case heard.

The government in legislation last year set discriminatory regulations which made it extremely difficult for an asylum seeker to get a judicial review at all. Last summer, the Supreme Court found these discriminatory regulations to be constitutional. Now the practice has become to arrest and detain quite innocent people and to set unattainable levels of bail for release pending the judicial review of their case.

``Day by day,'' says Pat Guerin of the Anti Racism Campaign, we are seeing the progressive violation by the state of human rights. It goes unrecorded, unreported and uncontested. Entirely innocent people are held in jail, deprived of their liberty. These are indeed disturbing times in which we live.''

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