Isa Haidar Al-Aali
Isa Haidar Al-Aali, 19 years old, has been detained by UK immigration authorities for more than three months. His application for asylum has been refused twice and removal directions were issued for his deportation on 22 May 2014 despite his having been sentenced in absentia to 5 years imprisonment by a Bahraini court. Based on recent expert evidence from global and local NGOs, Isa has not, and will not, receive a fair trial in Bahrain and will almost certainly be exposed to physical and psychological harm by Bahraini authorities. His case exposes the UK's abuse of a 'fast track' asylum process designed to expedite straightforward cases.
Isa Haidar Al-Aali is a victim of targeted state violence in Bahrain and was arrested three times for exercising his basic human right to peaceful protest and political expression since 2011. Ahmed Ali of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) says: "He was eventually sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in an unfair trial by international standards."
He was first detained in Bahrain on 15 February 2013 during a peaceful protest. Isa says he was then subjected to physical abuse. This included handcuffing from behind and being pushed into a moving security vehicle. During detention, he says, he was punched, kicked and beaten with batons and police helmets; police officers also threatened to cut-off his genitals and kill him.
After his third arrest Isa fled to the UK, seeking asylum. On his arrival at Heathrow Airport on 14 February 2014, he was placed on Fast Track Detention.
Sue Willman, partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, following the case closely, says: "no asylum-seeker arriving from Bahrain should be processed and detained under the fast track process, which is aimed at speedy resolution of straightforward cases. Bahrain has a well-documented recent history of torture and human rights violations verified by an independent commission. Isa Al Aali continuing detention and threatened removal represents a serious injustice."
Isa’s application for asylum was refused on 11 March 2014 after almost one month in detention at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, near Heathrow Airport. His asylum claim was considered by the Home Office without waiting for translations of the documents that he had provided in Arabic to support his claim. As a result, his appeal against the refusal was quashed by the First Tier Tribunal on 24 March 2014, with the Home Office challenging the authenticity of the documents which, at the time, were not translated into English.
Between 14 February and 6 March 2014, Isa was not provided with a lawyer nor was he given an explanation of immigration proceedings in the UK. He therefore had no chance to prepare his defence and was not told of the need to translate his documents into English. Isa had access to a lawyer only the day before his asylum interview on 7 March 2014. He later appealed the decision of the Home Office to reject his asylum application but his appeal was rejected at first instance.
Permission was granted to appeal to the Upper Tribunal and Isa lodged his appeal on 14 March 2014, his evidence included the fact that he had been sentence, in his absence, to five years imprisonment in Bahrain.
The judge recognised the significance of the fresh evidence provided, and said:
“Given that the appellant is in custody I would hope that any application to the Respondent for further consideration would be made without delay and considered without delay: If there were to be re-hearing on such issues it seems to me that the nature of the evidence and the complexity of the case as evolving would now render it perhaps not suitable for Fast Track Procedures.”
When considering the new evidential dossier that was submitted and translated, the judge found that these could provide the grounds for a fresh claim which would not be suitable for the Fast Track Procedures.
Isa’s fresh claim was rejected despite the comments made by the Upper Tier Tribunal judge. Isa asked the authorities to be deported to any country that would allow him entry, other than Bahrain. This request was also rejected.
If we are to believe David Cameron, that Britain welcomes genuine asylum seekers, then Isa should be released immediately and provided with the care and support a torture survivor and champion of democracy would be offered in any civilised society.
Judges do take public opinion into account. Isa’s case will be before a judge again this Thursday 29 May. His friends ask that anyone concerned about the detention and potential deportation of this young torture survivor to sign the petition here.
We are calling on the Home Secretary to provide asylum to a young man who has bravely stood up for democracy and suffered for it.
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