Ugandan lesbian receives asylum in UK

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Congratulations to Ugandan lesbian Prossy Kakooza who has won her asylum case after 15 months. According to the report, the judge was influenced by the medical evidence and the expert’s report which highlighted the extreme difficulties of being LGBTI in Uganda.

The judge was heavily influenced by three factors: the Country Expert Report, the medical evidence, and Prossy’s campaign. The Country Expert Report highlighted the terrible plight that lesbian and gay people endure in Uganda, as well as the “extra-judicial” activities of the police.

Her asylum also shows us that campaigns can be successful even when there seems to be an endless trail of obstacles to surmount.

* 5200 people from countries, and church congregations, from all over the world who have signed her petition to the Home Office.
* The 100s of people who have written or emailed the Immigration Minister.
* The 80 members and friends of MCC Manchester who have supported her.
* The 19 friends who went to court with her and helped her collect signatures on her petition at Pride festivals all over the country.
* The 10 friends who gave evidence in court on her behalf.
* The 3 lawyers who drafted and prepared her cases (Ruth Heatley from the Immigration Aid Unit and barristers Mark Schwenk & Mel Plimmer).

So please keep sending those emails, making phone calls, publicising campaigns, holding vigils and demos because it all helps and can influence the outcomes.

In another asylum case, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre staff have been caught “stealing” a Guide on detainees rights. The Black Women’s Rape Action [BWRAP] project issued the following press statement following reports by one of the women they are working with in Yarls Wood…..

On 15 October, Ms Mercy Wanjiku[1], a rape survivor from Kenya, called from Yarl’s Wood IRC to report that Legal Action for Women’s Self-Help Guide against detention and deportation, which she had received by post had been confiscated by Yarl’s Wood staff. The Guide contains essential information that Ms Wanjiku needed for a legal hearing three days later. It took an official complaint, intervention by Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP), letters to her MP and a theft report lodged with the police to force Yarl’s Wood authorities for the Guide to be returned.

Background

On 8 October, and despite her protests that it was an infringement of her right to privacy, Ms Wanjiku was forced to open her mail in front of Yarl’s Wood staff. The Self-Help Guide was confiscated even though Ms Wanjiku informed officers that she urgently needed access to information in the Guide as she had an appeal hearing for her asylum claim in three days and she had no lawyer (see notes below). She was told by a male member of staff that it was “illegal to have the book in here” and that he was following orders!

In the absence of sufficient lawyers due to cuts in legal aid provision, many women rely on the Self-help guide to provide them with the necessary information to process their cases. This is yet another in many illegal and inhumane acts committed by Yarls Wood including the recent damming report by UK Children’s Commissioner, Sir Aynsley-Green.

BWRAP is “one of the few groups providing information and support services run by and for African, African Caribbean and other women of colour surviving rape, domestic violence, racist assault, other torture and persecution”.

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