When Guy Nijke went to report to Becket House, the local enforcement office of the Borders and Immigration authority in South London on Monday, he was detained on the spot. He was informed that his claim for asylum based on new evidence had failed and that he was to be deported back to Cameroon on Saturday. There Guy will be in danger of being imprisoned and tortured.
Guy knows what this feels like. Over 9 years ago he was imprisoned and tortured in Cameroon due to his political activities with the opposition party, the Social Democratic Front. During his last detention he sustained a serious head injury. He was transferred to hospital, managed to escape and leave the country. He claimed asylum in the UK on the day he arrived on 26 August 1999.
After that nothing happened for almost five years. Guy was left in limbo by the authorities. He received his initial interview regarding his asylum claim by the Home Office only in March 2004.
I first met Guy in September 2003. Ever since then I have been impressed by the way he has set out to re-build his life in the UK, despite the traumatic events in Cameroon and the pressures of life as an asylum seeker in London.
He learned English and received counselling from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. He worked full-time at Selfridges and devoted his spare time to volunteer work at the Refugee Council and Medsin du Monde. He received a Masters in Human Rights from the University of London and was even called up for Jury Service.
“Guy is very committed to human rights and has a strong desire to make a difference to other people’s lives.” says Jenny Hamilton, Professor of Law at the University of Strathclyde. Professor Hamilton met Guy eight years ago and has remained in close contact with him ever since. Christine Watts, Communications Director at Selfridges, confirmed on Wednesday that Guy was “a good employee” since he started working there in February 2004.
After his initial claim for asylum and his appeal were rejected in 2004, Guy managed to submit a new claim for asylum with new supporting material in May 2005.
He heard nothing about his claim until three days ago. On his lunch break from his job at the food hall in Selfridges he was detained when reporting to the local enforcement office of the Borders and Immigration authority as he did on a regular basis. He was not permitted to finish his shift at work or to go back home and collect some personal items. He is currently being held at Southwark police station.
I managed to see him in detention yesterday. Guy says “My life has been blown apart. For nine years I have been waiting in this limbo and now it has come to this.” He was still in his work clothes from Monday when I saw him.
Guy’s friends and colleagues have reacted with outrage upon hearing of his detention. They have started a strong and dedicated campaign to stop his deportation.
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North where Guy lives, has submitted an enquiry to the Home Office on Guy’s case. An online petition has been set up calling on the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to allow Guy Nijke to remain in the UK. The petition (see link below) has so far gathered more than 460 signatures. Kirrily Pells, a friend of Guy’s, says: “Guy is a great friend and an integral member of the community. It is ridiculous that this country is deporting the type of people we need. We will do everything we can to keep him here with us.”
If you want to help with the campaign to stop the deportation of Guy Nijike sign the online petition: [http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopdeportationofguy/index.html]
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This post was written by Sara Hall