I’ve pointed out the disgraceful human rights abuses which comprise Britain’s asylum policy before. Today a murder in Darfur has shown that ‘failed’ asylum seekers face death when given no choice but to go back to the country they tried to escape:
A failed asylum-seeker who returned to Darfur under a government repatriation scheme has been murdered by Sudanese security officers after they followed him home from the airport in Khartoum, The Independent has learnt.
Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, was gunned down in his home in front of his wife and four-year-old son just days after arriving in his village in south Darfur.
The case is to be used by asylum campaigners to counter Home Office attempts to lift the ban on the removal and deportation to Sudan of failed asylum-seekers. Next month, government lawyers are expected to go to court to argue that it is safe to return as many as 3,000 people to Khartoum.
But lawyers for the campaigners will tell the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that people who are returned to Sudan face imprisonment, torture and death. Mr Mohammed, a non-Arab Darfuri, came to Britain in 2005 seeking sanctuary from persecution in Sudan, where he said his life was in danger. The village where he was a farmer had been raided twice by the Janjaweed, the ethnic Arab militia, forcing him and his wife and child to flee their home.
His family in Britain told The Independent that Mr Mohammed witnessed many villagers being killed and became separated from his wife during a second attack on the village a few weeks later. He escaped to Chad before making his way to the UK in 2005.
But last year his appeal for asylum was finally turned down and he was told that he faced deportation. In August last year he was flown to Khartoum under the Home Office’s assisted voluntary return programme, in which refugees are paid to go back to their country of origin. He stayed in Khartoum for a few months and then, when he believed it was safe, he travelled to Darfur to be reunited with his family.
Mohamed Elzaki Obubeker, Mr Mohammed’s cousin and chairman of the Darfur Union in the UK, said: “The government security forces had followed him to another village, Calgoo, where his wife and child had sought help. They came to the village to find him and then targeted him. They shot him in front of his wife and son.”
It should be remembered that the ‘voluntary’ repatriation policy for failed asylum seekers is based on coercion – the state takes their children into care until they agree to return to their native country. Remember also that Tony Blair unbalanced the playing field for asylum seekers to access fair asylum tribunals by massively reducing their rights to legal aid. And why? To reduce the numbers of asylum applicants by half, merely in order to escape the moral panics unleashed by New Labour’s tabloid bogeymen. By all means have a thoughtful policy on economic immigration and asylum, but the Geneva Convention was set up to avoid deaths such as Adam’s and should be the primary tool with which to assess asylum claims and to determine asylum policy – it’s a disgrace that New Labour remains on course instead to ignore it, and increase needless deaths such as his. The UK Border Agency said:
“Britain has a proud tradition of offering refuge to those who need our help.
“We consider every asylum application with the utmost care, and crucially there is oversight from the independent courts.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation in Sudan, and in July last year we took the decision to stop returning non-Arab Darfurs until the courts decided it was safe to do so.”
They quite clearly don’t consider every application with the utmost care. Last year Jacqui Smith said she believed gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi could safely return to his native country if he were only ‘discreet’ – palpably ridiculous. The courts have their hands tied because of the legislative changes in New Labour’s second term and don’t have access to the same information available to the Home Office. The UK Border Agency has since 2003 been tasked with reducing the numbers of those offered refuge by half by whatever means necessary. Don’t forget that.