world
Friday Jul 16 2021
By

UK court says govt took 'right decision' by adding Pakistan to red list

LONDON: The British High Court of Justice has ruled that Pakistan cannot be taken off the red list of travel ban until the United Kingdom Government takes a decision on that.

Justice Linden of the London High Court has ruled that Pakistani cannot be removed from the red list as the UK Government has a responsibility to deal with the pandemic to save lives, therefore, it took the right steps.

The judicial review challenge against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was initiated at the High Court by Barrister Zahab Jamali on behalf of three British Pakistani nationals Omer Khalid, Yasir Wahab, and Faisal Saeed who were affected by the UK government's decision in early April to impose a travel ban on Pakistan. 

The legal challenge was based on the arguments that despite having a comparatively higher number of infections and being associated with what is now known as the Delta variant, India was not added to this list until April 23, 2021, but Pakistan was added to the list on April 9 when it had the lowest infection rate at that time.

During the proceedings in the court, the UK Government conceded that the figures and positions it considered related to the genomic sequence data while putting Pakistan on the list was inaccurate. It also accepted the three claimant’s proposed figures on the genomic sequence were correct. Pakistan was filing genomic sequences in 2021 as well but when putting Pakistan on the red list, the government had assessed that Pakistan had not filed genomic sequences since December 2020. The UK government acknowledged this fact during the proceedings.

It emerged that the government had relied on three or four figures to determine which countries should be put on the red list but it is now clear that at least one of these was factually incorrect. The government has not released any detailed data to justify those figures either.

The claimants are now in process of challenging the decision in the Court of Appeal on the issue of genomic sequencing, said Barrister Zahab Jamali.

Barrister Rashed Ahmed, who had launched a separate case challenging the UK government's decision to include Pakistan in the red list, said his case will continue. 

He said: "The UK government has to answer why it added Pakistan on the red list whilst staying silent on countries where the COVID-19 pandemic was raging at the time. We continue to stress that Pakistanis were discriminated against, the UK government acted with bad intentions at that time. The government must consider compensating those who have suffered as a result of its actions."

The data presented to the court showed that on April 2, 2021, Pakistan and Kenya had a comparatively lower risk compared to other countries such as India, Bangladesh, Brazil, the US, Spain, Germany, and France. According to the data, per 100,000 people, Pakistan had the second-lowest figure among the listed countries, pipped only by Kenya. The figure of 3,070 stands in comparison to 34,065 for Germany, 70,397 for Spain, 71,929 for France, 76,613 for Belgium, and 94,393 for the United States — all of which remain off of the red list.

The data provided to the court said that India posed an interesting picture for comparison: it had over double the number of cases per 100,000 people (8,915) but was not added to the travel ban list until April 23, much later than Pakistan.