Many of you, like me, may think back over the last ten, twenty years, and try to remember life before we knew an asylum seeker.
In my own case, as an interpreter, I met Portuguese speakers from Angola, Spanish speakers from South America and, increasingly, French speakers from DRCongo and Cameroon.
Our lives, our priorities change after meeting asylum seekers.
In 2007 I found myself monitoring the post removal arrest and ill treatment of a Congolese family from Middlesbrough removed to DRC. More mothers, fathers and children followed. Since then I have monitored what happened post removal to over 40 returnees to DRC.
What are the concerns that I wish to share with City of Sanctuary supporters who know Congolese asylum seekers and Congolese families whose children, having been brought up in the UK since infancy, have been removed to imprisonment in DRC after committing offences in the UK?
The Home Office position is that it is safe to remove Congolese nationals to DRCongo.
My report, Unsafe Return III – Removals to the Democratic Republic of the Congo 2015 to 2019 Catherine Ramos, which documents removals to DRC 2015 – 2019 demonstrates that the Home Office is providing inaccurate evidence to caseworkers and to UK Courts which are making decisions in asylum cases. It also demonstrates that the Home Office has been withholding evidence of arrests and ill treatment since, at least, 2012. Cases are being decided without full knowledge of the facts.
Do you support or do you know Congolese asylum seekers or their representatives who need to know about my report? If you do, please draw their attention to it. Give them a cpy of the report or a link to it here ad encourage them to tell their solicitor.
Can you call the attention of your MP to this report and the Freedom of Information Request which shows that the British Embassy in Kinshasa does know of the arrests of returnees, even though the latest Home Office Country Policy Information Note states that the Embassy cannot provide specific information about returnees. There is no independent monitoring of returnees post removal.
The Congolese community needs our support and families of returnees should be heard by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Can you help them be heard?
For more information on this topic please see this article in The Guardian
and this article from the Migration Policy Institute