Immigration expert questions if the thousands detained like Stoly Jankovic get justice
With high fees and complex paperwork, lawyer asks "do people have real access to justice?"
13 April, 2017 — By William McLennan
Mr Jankovic, known as Stoly, is challenging attempts to force him to leave the country
STOJAN Jankovic is one of thousands to find themselves abruptly cast into detention far from their homes as they await removal from the UK, experts have said this week following outrage over his treatment.
Mr Jankovic, who left Yugoslavia for London in 1991 and has worked in Kentish Town for 15 years, was at the centre of a massive public backlash after he was detained by border police and threatened with imminent removal from the country.
Under Home Office rules, anyone, like Mr Jankovic, who has lived continuously in the UK for 20 years, has a right to apply for indefinite leave to remain, on the grounds they will have established a private life.
Danielle Cohen, a Camden Town-based immigration lawyer, with 20 years of experience, questioned whether the complex and costly application process under the “20 years route” guarantees access to justice for all.
She said: “As a human rights lawyer, you have to ask, do these people have real access to justice, when the Home Office fees are so high, or the forms are so complex and the documentary evidence required to prove the length of residence is difficult to come by for people in these positions.”
Cristel Amiss, who works at Crossroads Women’s Centre, in Wolsey Mews, Kentish Town, said: “[Mr] Jankovic is free, but thousands are still inside.”
Research by the Migration Observatory shows that around 30,000 people pass through an immigration detention centre in Britain each year. At any one time there are between 2,500 and 3,500 in detention. The cost of detaining a migrant was between £500 and £1,300 in 2015, they said.
Ms Amiss, of the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, said: “Many others still inside have fewer family or friendship networks to call on outside.”
Mr Jankovic, one of 500 held at The Verne in Dorset, said others there did not have the support he was grateful to have received.
He said: “I was thinking: ‘I’m not the story. I’m just a white middle-class guy in a nice neighbourhood. In terms of the problem of immigration, the problem of the movement of human beings, the story is 5,000 people who hardly speak the language or don’t have the chance to speak the language because they are banged up in a pen.”