An Afghan migrant cannot be sent home from France because his claim for asylum must be considered, the country’s highest court has ruled – despite him admitting his only aim is to reach Britain.
Said Sultan Khail has now been freed and is expected to resume his bid to get to Britain illegally via Calais.
His case sets a precedent that is likely to see hundreds of other illegal immigrants freed on the same grounds and also renew their efforts to get into the UK.
Khail was facing forced repatriation to Afghanistan after sneaking into France earlier this year and living in Calais’s squalid woodland camp known as the Jungle.
He was arrested with 278 other migrants when the camp was bulldozed in September, and was moved to the southern city of Nimes.
He, along with most of those arrested with him, lodged a claim for asylum in France as a way of avoiding deportation.
But the request was rejected by the regional government prefect in nearby Montpellier because Khail admitted he went to Calais with the ‘sole intention’ of getting to Britain.
He was told he would be held and sent back to Afghanistan. Lawyers at France’s council of state overturned the decision, saying the right to claim asylum is a ‘fundamental freedom’.
The ruling comes days after France deported nine British-bound illegal immigrants on a forced repatriation charter flight to Kabul.
All were arrested after the Jungle was bulldozed and had been refused the right to claim asylum in France.
But now they could make repeated illegal attempts to reach Britain while their application for asylum is considered – a process that may drag on for years.
France has come under fire for not deporting enough migrants living there illegally.
There are still about 1,000 in Calais making daily attempts to reach Dover.