The Habeas Corpus Project [‘HCP’] is a non-profit organisation that provides pro-bono legal representation in challenging unlawful detention of individuals in the UK. The name was inspired by the principle of Habeas Corpus.
The organisation was founded in July 2014 by Ousman Noor, a practicing barrister. Ousman has developed extensive experience in representing individuals in immigration detention, often making bail applications in Immigration Tribunals on their behalf. This experience led to a strong conviction that immigration detention was often performed unlawfully with insufficient transparency or accountability to the rule of law. This view appeared to be shared by other legal practitioners, including Michael Fordham QC, author of Immigration Detention and the Rule of Law, a report commissioned by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law who stated that ‘[immigration detention] is one of the most pressing rule of law issues of our era’.
It is clear that the lack of accessible and/or affordable legal representation is a fundamental reason for the non-accountability in challenging unlawful detention. This problem has increased as a result of the government’s cuts to legal aid affecting the availability of legal representation in judicial review work. Whilst the HCP joins others in campaigning against these cuts, we recognise that without the assistance of lawyers continuing to work on a pro-bono basis, it will become increasingly difficult for individuals to challenge unlawful detention leading to further deterioration in access to justice and the rule of law.
Upon foundation, the organisation was funded by Ousman Noor. The HCP’s future will depend on the support and involvement of volunteers and contributors who share the aspirations of the organisation. The work of HCP can be broadly divided in to three categories (i) Litigation (ii) Training (iii) Publications.
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