Joint Committee On Human Rights Fifth Report

Procedural safeguards and due process rights 2: Availability of legal advice

49. To be able effectively to exercise any right of appeal, or to present a case on a review of detention, the detainee must have timely access to appropriate legal assistance. In the absence of such assistance, an appeal or review is likely to be a relatively ineffective safeguard for the right to liberty and security of the person. The evidence leaves us in some doubt as to the extent of the availability, cost and quality of legal assistance. While the Legal Services Commission is now to make free assistance available to detainees, it is not clear that enough lawyers with sufficient relevant expertise in immigration and nationality law are available at the prisons where the detainees are held.[37] We draw this to the attention of each House. If the two Houses are not satisfied that appropriate advice is speedily available to detainees, there would be doubts about the adequacy of appeals and reviews under Part 4 of the Act as a safeguard for the right to liberty and security of the person. Such doubts might be regarded as providing a reason for refusing to allow the continuation of these provisions.

37   See, e.g., Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Part IV Section 28 Review by Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C., p. 22, para. 4.25, and p. 33, para. 6.7 Back

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Prepared 26 February 2003