Small victories are important

John ‘Bosco’ Nyombi

From The Wardman Wire

Following an eight year ordeal the Ugandan gay asylum seeker John ‘Bosco’ Nyombi has finally won asylum in the UK.

Bosco had been returned to Uganda where he was arrested, imprisoned more than once, and beaten. This was despite the fact that a judicial review of his case was still outstanding.

Therefore Judge Sir George Newman, saying the Home Office was guilty of “a grave and serious breach” of the law, demanded his return.

Deportation had been violent:

At the airport, when he resisted leaving the van, he was handcuffed, punched in his private parts to make him straighten his legs so they could be belted together. Crying, he was lifted on to the plane and flown out of the country. (Jacqui Smith has ordered an inquiry into widespread reports of violence during removals).

His mobile phone had been taken from him and he was given no chance to contact friends or lawyers, even though Home Office rules required that he should have 72 hours’ notice of removal to give him a chance to make calls.

Judge Newman said he was satisfied that Bosco was telling the truth and that the actions of the Border Agency officers were “deliberately calculated to avoid any complication that could arise from Mr Bosco ’s removal becoming publicly known.”

Lawyers for the Home Secretary conceded in court that his removal was carried out illegally. But they argued that flying him back to the UK was pointless because the 38-year-old was bound to lose the fresh asylum claim he now wanted to make.

Rejecting their arguments, Judge Newman said: “I find it impossible to conclude, on the basis of the evidence as it now is [Bosco's situation on returning to Uganda], that there is not the real possibility that a judge might find that he is at risk if he is returned (to his homeland) by reason of his homosexuality.”

Emphasis added.

Even for the Home Office this is bad. To argue that illegality can be allowed to stand because they have decided he will eventually lose his case is the argument of tyranny.

But there are possibly hundreds of cases where there is no publicity and the Home Office (and the UK Border Agency) can and do get away with all sorts. They have a culture of disbelief of anyone's claim. They bend (and make) the rules to suit themselves. They will argue black is white in court. They work hard to avoid external scrutiny. If they feel they are being challenged, whether by public campaigns or individual lawyers, they give every impression of responding like spoilt bullies - lashing out at anyone in their reach.

I accept the issues are complicated. I accept that openhandedness is not acceptable politically (though you have to ask how we got to this point), and I know I am out of my depth. But to act outside the law, to act on the assumption everyone else is an enemy, to disbelieve everything and everyone, is inexorably to become what you are nominally fighting: criminal, deceiptful, uncontrollable.

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