Fighting deportation is one of the hardest legal battles you could face and fighting to return AFTER deportation is near impossible. In 2007, 12,525 failed asylum seekers people were deported from Britain and 63,140 in total. Of the 24, 550 asylum claims in 2009 73% were turned down one of whom was a young woman from northern Uganda who had sought asylum after being repeatedly raped. Her case had been pending for 5 years. Every couple of weeks she would report to the police station as all asylum claimants have to do. Each week for nearly 5 years her anxiety would start the week before signing on and become increasingly worse as the day neared. Each time she signed on she would go into a panic that it would be her last and she would disappear. One Thursday in March 2009 she went to sign on as usual and was immediately locked up and then taken to Yarlswood Detention Center. By Sunday she was back in Kampala despite desperate attempts by her solicitor and barrister to stop the deportation. The struggle to bring her back continues and she remains in the protection of a church in Kampala. Her treatment and that of thousands of other deportees amounts to slow but intense torture, always living on the verge of being caught for simply living.
John ‘Bosco” Nyombi is also from Uganda. He came to Britain in 2002 after fearing for his life as a gay man in Uganda. On arrival in London he made a claim for asylum and after three months the Home Office withdraw their case . Despite repeated requests, the Home Office failed to put this in writing as required. John then found a job but later his application for renewal of his stay was denied so back to court. Again there was no case but from 2004 he was told to report regularly to the police station – the usual procedure for pending asylum cases as I mentioned above. Then on the 9th September he went to sign on as usual and was immediately detained for deportation.
Bosco then describes the day he was transported by force to Heathrow airport by Group 4 Guards [private UK security company]. He was handcuffed, screaming and struggling they dragged him out of the van and punched him in the groin, cuffed his legs and put him on the plane. On the 19th September he arrived in Kampala and was handed over to Ugandan immigration. Two days before this happened Bosco had appeared in the New Vision which reported him as a gay man. He was ridiculed by the immigration and then the police. With the help of a British diplomat, Bosco managed to return to the UK. In the interview below he tells his story.
The procedure following his seizure at the police station right up to deportation is very typical. In March 2008, Ayo Omotade, a Nigerian on his way home to his brother’s wedding complained to the security guards in a British Airways flight about their handling of a deportee. Ayo was eventually thrown off the plane together with all the other passengers in economy class and he was charged with “of the charge of behaving in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly manner towards crew”. Over a year later after considerable stress to himself and his family, Ayo was found Not Guilty and is presently pursuing a private suit against British Airways.
We rarely get to hear the stories of those deported. They become invisible, lost as they invariably go into hiding in their home countries fearful of being seen or heard. Thousands and thousands of people across the world living in fear of either being deported or after being deported and this is why John “Bosco” Nyombi’s story is so important.
In March 2009 my solicitor rang me to say that I had won my case. I was given the telephone number of the person to contact who was going to give me the proper document to travel back to the UK. So this guy flew from Nairobi, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda to give me the document. I went to meet him at the British high commission. He told me you have to make sure you are at the airport in the morning because the plane is leaving at 9.50 am. He gave me the travel document on 5 March and the flight was on 6 March.
He told me that when he gets back to Nairobi he is going to talk to somebody at the airport at Entebbe in Kampala, and then he would send me the name and telephone number of that person. So when I got to the airport I could contact that person. And then they would help me to get through. I waited for the text message; I didn’t get anything. In the morning I was still where I was staying, thinking: ‘What am I going to do? What is going to happen?’ Continue reading here.