Margaret Nambi released from detention!
Great news and thanks to all those who wrote to support Ms Nambi. She was released from Yarl’s Wood Immigration and Removal Centre last Wednesday.
Ms Nambi suffered gang rape by soldiers in Uganda in 2001 and fled to the UK (see New Statesman for more info). Because of the stigma and discrimination faced by rape survivors, when she claimed asylum she was unable to speak about what she had suffered. She only reported being raped to the authorities after receiving support from WAR. We worked closely with Ms Nambi’s lawyer on her fresh claim ensuring that information about the rape was included and provided expert evidence to counter claims that a delay in reporting rape indicates a lack of credibility.
WAR also identified Ms Nambi as a victim of trafficking based on her experiences in the UK: Ms Nambi’s passport was taken from her, she was forced into domestic servitude and forced to have sex with men who paid the people controlling her. UKBA refused to acknowledge Ms Nambi as a victim and denied her the appropriate resources.
One day after submitting her fresh claim Ms Nambi was taken into detention at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. A few days later she was told that she was to be removed back to Uganda – before any decision was reached on her fresh claim!
People from all round the country wrote to demand Ms Nambi’s release. The All African Women’s Group, of which Ms Nambi is a committed member, kept her spirits up with daily calls and letters.
UKBA refused Ms Nambi’s fresh claim. An injunction prevented her removal whilst she challenged their decision, but UKBA still wouldn’t release her, contravening government guidelines which prohibit the detention of vulnerable people. Threatened with Judicial Review proceedings, UKBA backed down and are reconsidering her claim. See here for how you can write to press for Ms Nambi to be allowed to stay in the UK.
Christine Nankya’s flight stopped again
Ms Christine Nankya had suffered years of abuse and rape by her father in Uganda, and at 19 conceived a child as a result. She has been in Yarl's Wood Removal Centre since April this year. In August this year she got in touch with our colleagues at Black Women’s Rape Action Project who worked with her lawyer and wrote to her MSP who then intervened to stop her removal.
On 15 October, Ms Nankya got the third notice of removal. WAR wrote to press for her flight to be cancelled, so that she could have access to a psychiatric assessment. This letter was used by her lawyer (who had previously said that nothing could be done) to appeal for a barrister to get an injunction to stop her flight.
Unfortunately, this help didn’t arrive in time and Ms Nankya was dragged naked from Yarl's Wood. She reports being drugged and passing out, so the escorts were able to put her clothes back on in the van on the way to Heathrow. Read Ms Nankya’s full statement here.
Women at Yarl's Wood bravely protested against her treatment. The group called Movement for Justice went to the airport and told passengers what was happening and they demanded that Ms Nankya be taken off the flight. Ms Nankya was returned to Yarl’s Wood. A leading barrister took up her case and succeeded in stopping a subsequent attempted removal. Ms Nankya has now seen a psychiatrist so that her asylum claim, including her need for support to recover from trauma, can be looked at again.
Ms A case reopened and she is released from detention
Ms A was raped by her brother-in-law after fleeing from violence between Christian and Muslim people in Nigeria. After her husband died she was expected to marry this same man who had raped her. She escaped to the UK but ended up in the hands of bad lawyers. They never raised that rape and forced marriage, to a man with a history of violence against her, could be considered grounds for asylum.
Ms A was detained in Yarl’s Wood in August 2012 where she claimed asylum. Her case was put in the "Detained Fast Track" where decisions are made within days. Even though her account of her experiences was accepted, the Home Office refused her case. It used their own country information report on Nigeria to claim that Ms A could get “state protection”, ignoring that the very same report concluded that women suffering violence within the family are systematically denied protection by the authorities.
Ms A's lawyers told her there was nothing more they could do. She tried to apply for a Judicial Review (JR) herself but failed. The refusal notice was sent to Yarl’s Wood and not given to Ms A until after the deadline to appeal had passed. WAR wrote to the court objecting to UKBA’s selective use of country information and the sabotage of her case by Yarl's Wood officers.
On 9 November, we received a call from a delighted Ms A, who was on her way home! Her barrister had read out WAR’s letter at her bail hearing. The judge, possibly encouraged by the support Ms A had from a respected anti-rape organisation, scrutinized the case thoroughly and released her.
Family removal halted
Ms G suffered years of repeated rape and other domestic violence at the hands of her husband in Nigeria. She tried to report him to the police several times but they refused to act. She escaped to the UK with her children. Her asylum claim was refused and she was paying a lawyer to try to reopen her case. But UKBA were proceeding with arrangements to remove the family, saying they had no proof of her application.
Ms G rang us in tears as she and her children were to be taken to Pease Pottage Detention Centre (run in collaboration with Barnardo’s children’s charity despite widespread protests – see here). We rang Ms G's lawyer who then went to the High Court in person to ensure UKBA were notified her case was ongoing. The UKBA officers, on their way to Ms G’s home to detain her, were alerted and on arrival told her they were stopping the removal arrangements. Ms G offered them a cup of tea, which they declined, and then she rang us back delighted to let us know the good news!
Hearing adjourned for psychiatric evidence & legal aid reinstated
Ms B fled to the UK after suffering a horrific gang rape by soldiers in Guinea. Her family was targeted because of her husband's political activity and she was forced to flee leaving her children behind. UKBA refused to believe her account of what happened and her lawyer asked WAR to prepare an expert report for her asylum appeal in September 2012.
Ms B’s previous lawyer included just one sentence about the rape in her statement, saying she would be asked to say more about this at her asylum interview. But after reading her statement, the UKBA officer said that "as a woman", she understood how difficult it was to speak about rape and did not ask Ms B for any more details. Ms B was very distressed to find out that this same officer then refused her claim, disbelieving that she was a rape victim! A facade of "sensitivity" towards victims deprived Ms B of the right to put her case in full to the authorities.
After seeing our report, Ms B’s lawyer decided that her case was strong enough to merit legal aid being reinstated which meant that Ms B could see a psychiatrist. Our research found that women with reports from psychiatrists and other experts are six times more likely to win at appeal. We await the outcome of her hearing later this month.
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