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Friday, September 4

First use of Twitter to prevent a deportation

Anselme Noumbiwa

This is Anselme Noumbiwa. He's a Cameroonian who fled his country for the UK in 2006 because on the death of his father, the village Chief, he was expected to 'marry' his father's wives.

When he would not adhere to tribal traditions the village elders tortured him. Although the Home Office believed him they did not accept the report of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture arguing on a technicality (as is often the case) that the doctor who wrote it didn’t “work” for the Foundation.

The Home Office also said he could relocate within Cameroon and would be safe. But the influence of powerful members of his tribe reaches beyond the area where he lived. If he is sent back he would be in mortal danger.

So last week he was detained.

And last week he became the first known person to tweet from immigration detention in the UK.

He was detained despite another appointment, in October, with Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. This time with a doctor who “worked” – even in the twisted definition of the Home Office – for them. The doctor needed another meeting to conclude his report. So why on earth did they detain Anselme before this appointment? Because that's what they do.

He got out of detention only because people campaigned on his behalf, bombarding the Home Office with e-mails on the Friday just before the long bank holiday weekend.

I have seen this time and time again - they skirt around rules and procedures to deport someone, supporters rally and very often the deportation is stopped. So then they move to try and make it even easier to deport, even harder to apply rules, and law. A cat-and-mouse game which gives the lie to any claims of 'fairness'.

It's happening against a background of relentless media scare stories such as the one this week in the Daily Mail which was headlined One out of every five killers is an immigrant (no, foreign-born person does not equal 'immigrant' and they counted both 'unknown' and Irish people as 'foreign') and a foreground of weak Labour politicians who have forgotten what their party is supposed to stand for.

Cameroonian asylum seekers are being rounded up across the UK and put on “ethnic charter flights”. Today there is a demo organised by British-Africans against them outside the UK Border Agency Enforcement Unit at Salford Quays in Manchester.

Last quarter only 6,045 people applied for asylum in the UK. There are 42 million uprooted people in the world. On Wednesday the EU called for member countries to accept more refugees seeking resettlement.

Anselme's supporters made this film about his story.

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