URGENT: Help keep Muhammad safe
You may have seen this Guardian article about hosting destitute refugees, featuring our good friend and former guest Muhammad.
Muhammad has yet to see a copy of the paper, because by horrible coincidence he was detained by the Home Office on the very morning it was published. They have already attempted to forcibly remove him and send him back to Pakistan, where he fears for his life, on 21 September, but his ticket was cancelled thanks to a successful campaign to get the support of his own and other MPs. Now they are trying to deport him again, this time on Tuesday 27th October at 10.30pm. The reason stated by the Home Office as the “barrier to removal” for the 21st September was MP intervention. A huge thank you to all of you who contributed to this – but Muhammad now needs your help again.
Muhammad is not being deported tonight. Once again, the pressure on the Home Office has led to his ticket being cancelled.
Muhammad’s solicitors are experts in human trafficking; he is in good hands. Furthermore, an investigation has now been launched into why his case has not been properly considered by the relevant authorities.
His solicitors are now working very hard to get him out of detention, but he remains in Harmondsworth where he has been for well over a month now. His ongoing detention exemplifies a system that is not working and that is failing the very people it purports to serve.
It should also be noted that despite the tragic earthquake which affected the region yesterday (including the rural areas around Rawalpindi where Muhammad comes from) there is still a charter plane scheduled to fly from Heathrow to Islamabad at 22:30 this evening. These flights take place late at night on private aircraft without public scrutiny.
Huge thanks once again for all your help to keep Muhammad safe – we are extremely grateful. We will keep you updated as to what happens next.
Despite being deemed “manifestly unfit to fly” a month ago, Muhammad has received new removal directions from the Home Office. He is once again scheduled to fly on a charter plane, at 10.30pm on Tuesday 27th October.
Muhammad has an excellent new solicitor who is working on his case with a leading expert in combatting human trafficking. He is in very good hands and they think that he has a strong case. There is very firm evidence that Muhammad is a victim of human-trafficking. However, the Home Office have repeatedly not taken this evidence into account and are now trying again to forcefully remove Muhammad from the country.
Your help has been extremely valuable so far. Indeed, it was the intervention of MPs after receiving your emails that led to him being taken off the first flight. We have drafted some new template emails and would be very appreciative if you could send them to put pressure on MPs. We need to make sure that Muhammad is not on the charter plane on the 27th October so that his case can receive a fair hearing.
THANK YOU again for all that you’ve done so far. It means a huge amount.
Today marks one month since Muhammad was detained. Yesterday, he received his “monthly progress report” from the detention centre.
So, what progress has been made?
Muhammad is still locked up in detention in spite of his poor health, and has been told he will not be released “because there is reason to believe that [he] will fail to comply with any conditions attached to the grant of temporary admission or release”. Yet in the years since applying for asylum, Muhammad has signed at the Home Office reporting centre every time he has been required to, without fail. He handed over all of his ID and other documents to the Home Office when he applied, in good faith that his case would be properly dealt with and that the system existed to provide sanctuary to those who need it.
The most recent of several medical reports in support of Muhammad’s case states:
-he is “manifestly unfit to fly”;
-it is “likely that immigration detention is exacerbating his pre-existing mental illness”; and
-it is “likely that his mental health could improve if he were treated in a community setting”; but
-treatment is “unlikely to be effective unless and until he is able to feel subjectively safe”.
Keeping Muhammad in indefinite detention is unjust and unproductive (not to mention expensive). Muhammad does not currently have legal representation, due to lack of capacity at his previous law firm – so he needs our support as much as ever.
Muhammad was badly beaten up and left for dead due to his dad’s political allegiances. His family sold their land to pay people to take him to “a better life” in the UK. The people were traffickers and he ended up in slavery and debt bondage in Manchester, before finding out he could apply for asylum.
Muhammad’s case has never been properly considered by the Home Office. They have refused to take into account expert evidence saying that he exhibits all the signs of having been trafficked into forced labour. Not only this, but Muhammad has serious mental and physical health problems. Doctors have said that he is unfit to fly and that there are no available services in Pakistan to meet his mental health needs. He has on four occasions been driven to suicide attempts by his past experiences and by the level of disbelief and accusation from the Home Office.
Muhammad’s solicitor was preparing to apply for judicial review, the next stage in appealing the Home Office’s decisions. But instead he was detained and taken to Harmondsworth ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ (aka prison). We have visited Muhammad there and it is a truly appalling place that shames Britain, where his mental health cannot possibly be adequately looked after.
Muhammad dreams of safety and stability in his life; of having a home to welcome people to; of one day opening a restaurant and using his skills as a chef.
Muhammad was incredibly touched when we told him about all your expressions of positivity and compassion following the Guardian article. He now needs your support more than ever.
UPDATE 16/09/15: The Guardian has now published this follow-up piece
UPDATE 18/09/15: A brand new independent medical report states that Muhammad is “manifestly unfit to fly”.
The good news: Muhammad is not being deported tonight. The pressure on the Home Office from various directions has worked, for now at least, and his ticket for tonight was cancelled a few hours ago. Muhammad has asked us to pass on his heartfelt thanks for your support and kindness.
The bad news: Muhammad is still in detention, where his mental health has unsurprisingly deteriorated. We do not know what the Home Office’s next steps will be, but we do know we need to get him out of detention for his safety. They may yet try to deport him again.
We will keep you updated on what happens next and anything you can do to help.
Thanks again for your help and for caring.
THANK YOU in advance for your support. It means a huge amount.