No Deportations of Sudanese

Mohammed Abdulhadi Ali watched in terror as Janjaweed
militiamen on butchered his relatives and neighbours
and burned his village to the ground…..

From the Independent, Wed 28th April 2007
By Ben Russell and Nigel Morris

The livestock farmer, who only escaped death by hiding
behind a bush, fled the scorched remains of Korny in
northern Darfur. He had lost two uncles in the attack
and was left homeless and in constant fear the militia
would return.

He escaped cross country and hitched rides to
Khartoum, where he eventually paid a smuggler to fly
him out of Sudan, fearing that his tribal background
would make him a marked man.

Mr Ali did not mind where he ended up, as long as it
was far from the ethnic cleansing that has gripped the
west of the country.

He came to Britain with the hope that it would offer a
haven from the violence. But his dreams of a new life
have been shattered by the Home Office, which has
locked him up, ready for deportation next week.

His treatment – and those of others who sought
sanctuary in this country – provoked demands for mercy
in the Commons yesterday and fury across the political

But the Home Office, which will today set out plans to
tighten Britain’s borders further, is insisting it is
safe to send some Sudanese asylum-seekers back to

Campaigners fear that dozens of Darfuris are being
rounded up for deportation, with about 60 asked to
report to immigration officials within the next 10

Mr Ali, speaking through a translator from a detention
centre at Heathrow airport, said: “If I go back to
Khartoum I definitely will be killed. I belong to the
Zaghawa tribe and that is enough to be killed.

“When I came to Britain I hoped I would be safe. Now
they would like to send me back. They don’t care for
human rights.”

Mr Ali, 39, told how Janjaweed militiamen stormed into
his village four years ago. He said: “They came in the
evening and killed two of my uncles and many others in
the village. They were carrying guns and burned down
the village and killed many people. I was terrified.”

Mr Ali, who had suffered a machete attack before his
village was targeted, claimed refuge in Britain
shortly after arriving. His initial claim failed and
two appeals were thrown out.

He lodged a second asylum claim when new information
came to light, but when he reported to the immigration
authorities in Nottingham last week he was told it had
been rejected and he was arrested on the spot. His
solicitors are now mounting a final effort to block
his removal.

Yesterday MPs and campaigners expressed fury amid
warnings that Darfuris deported to Khartoum risked
being killed as Western spies. Sir Menzies Campbell,
the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “Thousands are
dying in Darfur and we have a moral obligation not to
send back anyone whose life is in danger.”

Mr Ali’s case was raised in the Commons by John
Bercow, the former Conservative frontbencher. He said
he had seen video evidence of a man deported from the
UK to Khartoum who was “brutally, viciously attacked
and tortured by the Sudanese authorities”. He added:
“It would not be safe to return people who bear tribal
scars and are immediately identifiable by hostile

Glenys Kinnock, the Labour MEP, added: “Returning
frightened and vulnerable Darfuri victims of ethnic
cleansing to Khartoum is morally wrong and totally
unacceptable. The Home Office should immediately
rethink a policy which involves sending these people
back to certain danger and possible death.”

The Aegis Trust, a pressure group campaigning against
genocide around the world, said a former member of the
Sudanese security services had warned that Darfuris
returning to the country faced interrogation and
possible death.

The trust claimed that the Home Office was trying to
round up Darfuris before the judgement in a test case
that could halt attempts to deport them.

The trust’s chief executive, James Smith, said: “The
Government’s handling of this is a disgrace. The
government is talking tough about the Darfur crisis
but on the other hand they are trying to send
asylum-seekers back to face the regime that has burned
their villages and murdered their families.

“It’s good that Tony Blair’s urging the international
community to stop the government of Sudan bombing
Darfur’s villages, but the message Khartoum gets from
the British Government is not from strong words, but
from our actions – and these show that we are working
hand-in-glove to send back the few that have escaped
to face torture and possible death.”

Anna Reisenberger, the acting chief executive of the
Refugee Council, said: “This removal seems to be the
latest in a worrying pattern of returning small
numbers of people to places that are recognised to be

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “All applications for
asylum are examined with great care. While we will not
remove anyone who we believe is at risk on their
return, we have made it clear that we will take a
robust approach to removing those whom the asylum
decision making and independent appeals processes have
found do not need international protection.”


House of Commons – 27 Mar 2007 : Column 1299

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): I beg to ask leave to move the
Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 24,
to discuss a specific and important matter, namely,

“the removal by the Home Office to Khartoum of failed
asylum seekers from Darfur.”

The immediate pretext for my request is the fact that the Home Office
is minded tomorrow to remove no fewer than three such people on
flights to Khartoum, and there are plans for further removals next
week. One example that illustrates the argument comes to mind:

Mohammed Abdulhaddi Ali is a black African from the Zaghawa tribe who
has demonstrated outside the Sudanese embassy in London and who is a
known opponent of the Sudanese Government. I submit to the House that
he would be at risk of persecution if he were returned to Khartoum.

The Government have signed up to the principle of non-refoulement –
they accept that they have a responsibility not to
return people to states in which there is a serious risk of those
people being subject to the death penalty, torture, inhuman or
degrading treatment of punishment. The burden of the
Government and Home Office argument is that it is unsafe to return
people to Darfur but safe to do so to Khartoum.

My contention to this House is that there are a number
of reasons why it would not be safe to return people to Khartoum.
There is sporadic but intense fighting between the Government and a
variety of rebel forces. It would not be safe to return people to
Khartoum, where the national intelligence and security service is based
and where it is constantly on the lookout for returnees. It would not
be safe to return people who bear tribal scars and who are
immediately identifiable by hostile authorities. It would not be
safe to return people when we know from the published evidence of the
Aegis Trust of a great many cases of people who have been returned
only to be subject to intimidation, harassment or substantially

“Safe as Ghost Houses”, which was published last year by the Aegis
Trust and authored by Sarah Maguire, is explicit on the issue. The
evidence is on the record, and the Government have not issued an
intelligible or coherent response to it. It is unsafe to return
people when the Sudanese embassy is hand in glove with
the Home Office to get people out, with God knows what
consequences for those vulnerable people. It is not safe to return people
such as those whom I saw last year. I saw video evidence about a man who
was returned from this country and who was then brutally attacked
and tortured by the Sudanese authorities.

I put it to the House that we have responsibilities-the country has a
responsibility, the Government have a responsibility and this House
has a responsibility to very vulnerable people. To kick them out
would be wrong and precipitate. The matter must be debated and
debated urgently.

Mr. Speaker: I have listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has
said. I must give him my decision without stating any reasons. I am
afraid that I do not consider that the matter raised is appropriate
for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore
submit the application to the House.

Sudan: Darfur

House of Lords – 27 Mar 2007 : Column WA265
House of Commons