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Thursday Apr 22 2021
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Two UK judges slam maltreatment of Pakistanis in quarantine

LONDON: Two high court judges have criticised the UK government’s treatment of travellers from Pakistan who are currently quarantining at various facilities approved by the government in London.

Pakistan was recently added to the government's “red list” of countries meaning that any individual entering the UK from Pakistan must now stay in a pre-approved hotel — quarantine centre — at a cost of at least £1,750 per person for 10 days.

Barrister Zahab Jamali moved the UK High Court of Justice after some British Pakistanis from the quarantine centre near Heathrow Airport reported of being forced to stay in cramped, unhygienic hotel rooms with inadequate food, maltreatment and poor services.

Many of those currently in quarantine are fasting during Ramadan. Barrister Jamali told this correspondent that many were “offered ham and bacon (which are religiously forbidden) sandwiches to break their fasts”.

Read more: British Pakistanis at London's main quarantine centre complain of lack of facilities

Barrister Zahab Jamali moved the court after negotiations with the government failed. Jamali had written to the UK government on April 14 demanding better conditions and permission to go out for a walk, exercise and adequate sanitary facilities. 

Following the High Court challenge, the government was ordered by the court to ensure that families were accommodated in larger rooms, taken outside for exercise and provided with the appropriate dietary meals.

The UK High Court has, so far, made two orders asking the UK government to fully comply with the court orders and ensure mandatory facilities for the complainants and others. 

The first order was made by Justice Lang on April 16, 2021, in which she had ordered Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock to take all necessary steps to provide larger rooms for the claimants, permit them to take regular outdoor exercise and provide exercise and provide them with suitable food at appropriate times and clean bed linen and towels. 

The judge said that the government must update the court on compliance within two days.

Read more: Many Pakistanis cut short their stay due to UK's red list restrictions

The matter was again considered by the High Court on April 19, 2021, in which Justice Henshaw ordered the government to take all necessary steps to ensure that claimants had sufficient furniture of seating, including at mealtimes, permit them to take daily outdoor exercise and to provide them with suitable and sufficient food at appropriate times.

Justice Henshaw noted that the order by Justice Lang was not fully complied with and the travelers continue to face genuine difficulties in quarantine. 

However the judge reasoned that there was no sufficiently strong case to justify one complaining family’s release from quarantine, bearing in mind the risks to public health.

The law firm launched a legal case against the government on behalf of around 10 families, including the families currently stranded in Pakistan or quarantining in the UK. 

Read more: UK adds Pakistan to its 'red list' of travel ban countries

The claimants included a 10-year-old British child diagnosed with modern attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); elderly and British children.

It is understood that the hotel management at Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 didn’t address the issue of haram food when the complainants tried to engage with them on the sensitivity of the issue.

Similar issues were highlighted by Geo after Pakistanis quarantining at Radisson Hotel near Heathrow and Holiday Inn Birmingham got in touch with their complaints.

Originally published in The News