We are sorry to report that Erioth Mwesigwa was sent back to Uganda on Friday 6 April.
Please find below a statement put out by Erioth’s friends and colleagues in the All African Women’s Group. Legal Action for Women is taking donations to help her out financially as the more dependent she is on others for her survival the more vulnerable she is to exploitation and even possible violence.
Erioth’s deportation was terrible and unjust. She has family here in the UK and is now alone and at risk. The government is under attack for its “hostile environment” under which people from the Caribbean were wrongly deported. Now is the time to press an end to the cruel asylum system.
Erioth fell foul of harsh laws and policies, some of which were recently introduced.
- Deportation without notice. Erioth was a victim of an “open notice removal” where a “person can be removed at any time during a specified “window” without further notice”. (The “window” is usually three months but was reduced to two weeks in Erioth’s case because she was acknowledged as vulnerable.) Erioth only found out her case was finally refused when she went to sign on and was taken directly from there to the airport. WAR is helping with a legal challenge to this policy which we hope will end this injustice.
- Enforcement Unit making decisions on rape survivors claims. Erioth put in a fresh claim which included new evidence from a psychiatrist and expert input from Women Against Rape about the impact of rape on her. This substantive information was dismissed out of hand – not by the Home Office caseworker but by the enforcement unit. Their refusal barely mentions her trauma or her family life.
- “Deport first, appeal later”. Erioth was denied the right to an “in country” appeal. She was told that she had to go back to Uganda to appeal her case – impossible for anyone particularly a vulnerable rape survivor like Erioth. This is clearly a tactic to prevent people getting their case before a judge. In 2017 the Supreme Court ruled this was “unfair and unlawful” in human rights cases. It must be reversed.
- Legal aid cuts. Over £1 billion has been cut from legal aid budgets making it almost impossible to find a good legal aid lawyer to take your case. Erioth’s private lawyer didn’t challenge the refusal of her claim and as a result she was put in detention. She was terribly traumatised by this.
WAR’s Refuge from Rape and Destitution Campaign is challenging these injustices. For more information get in touch.
All African Women’s Group: Erioth Mwesigwa sent back on Friday 6 April
Our much loved friend and All African Women’s Group (AAWG) member, Erioth Mwesigwa was sent back to Uganda on Friday 6 April.
Erioth Mwesigwa was victim of rape and other torture which was never considered by the Home Office. Even though the rest of her family were granted asylum, Erioth was refused without an opportunity to put her case before a judge. AAWG and Women Against Rape (WAR) campaigned to get her out of detention in February 2017. WAR also provided expert evidence on the longstanding impact of rape for her asylum claim.
On Monday we managed to get hold of her by phone and found out that she had nearly been killed on the flight back. She was strapped into a seat and had two guards holding her down. Her blood pressure soared and she was in extreme distress. Luckily one of the cabin crew intervened and called a doctor who gave Erioth painkillers! She was abandoned in a severe weakened state at the airport.On Erioth was detained when she went to sign on and within a couple of hours was taken straight to the airport. She managed to ring a woman from AAWG on the way to the airport and with Black Women’s Rape Action Project, WAR, other supporters and a journalist, we all mobilised to protest, intervene and stop the flight. Sadly, due to the short notice we didn’t succeed. Erioth called Saturday to say she had arrived in Uganda.
Erioth says “I thought I was going to be killed by these guards, I manage to keep myself together by thinking I did not want to die like Jimmy Mubenga.”
Immediate action needed:
PLEASE PROTEST TO KENYAN AIRLINES about their collaboration in forced removals. It seems his predecessor got 8.5 m dollars a month – we’ve yet to find out what CEO Sebastian Mikosz gets! Write to him c/oWorld Business Centre 1, Third Floor, 1208 Newall Road, Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW6 2RE. Their facebook page is here and twitter account here – please use #enddeportations. Some airlines and pilots have refused to carry deportees.
PLEASE DONATE TOWARDS A FUND so we can send Erioth some money which will be a practical way of helping her stay safe. Without resources she will be more vulnerable to abuse by government and others in authority. The bank account details are Bank: Unity Trust Bank. Sort code: 60-83-01. Account name: Legal Action for Women. Account no: 50728361. Please mark that your donation to “Erioth.”
WAR is consulting lawyers about what can be done to challenge the legality of her removal and bring her back. We’ll be in touch soon with news of this. A number of recent policy changes made it harder for Erioth to fight to stay in the UK and they must be opposed. These policies include: no right to in country appeal; legal aid cuts; presenting a refusal only when people go to sign and then taking them straight to the airport; the “windows” policy whereHome Office notifies people they can be removed at any point with no warning.
PROTEST AGAINST DEPORTATION BEING PROMOTED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO DETENTION – Erioth was sent straight to the airport without being detained. Please endorse our statement against charities and NGOs using the growing movement against detention to promote partnerships with the Home Office and changes to the asylum system based on deportation in the forms of the Family Returns Process and so-called “voluntary” returns. There can be no NGO collaboration with this brutal, unjust, racist, sexist Home Office.