Government ignores pleas to halt deportation of disabled asylum-seeker


A disabled asylum-seeker has been deported to Afghanistan, despite desperate last-minute pleas from disability rights campaigners.
The charity RADAR wrote to Alan Johnson, the home secretary, calling for Abbas Sharifi’s deportation to be postponed.
And members of the Disabled Asylum Seekers and Refugees Network in Sheffield, where Sharifi had lived, made frantic last-minute efforts through the European Court of Human Rights and Sheffield Labour MP Meg Munn to delay the deportation.
Mike Higgins, a disabled activist, friend of Sharifi and supporter of the network, said: “It is a huge disappointment that the Home Office and his MP were unwilling to put their necks on the line and at the very least seek a postponement of the flight while this matter was properly looked into.”
He said the deportation would leave Sharifi destitute on the streets of Kabul and place his life at risk because of his physical and mental impairments and a need for medication he could not afford.
Munn’s case worker, Deborah Stenton, said she had interrupted the MP’s holiday three times over the case, sent information to the Home Office and checked Sharifi had been seen by a doctor.
But Stenton said the MP’s office will not take a case to a minister unless it is “a case we think we can possibly win”, and added: “In the timescale we had [less than two days]I am quite confident with what we did.”
RADAR’s chief executive, Liz Sayce, said in her letter that she was “deeply concerned” that deporting Sharifi could breach the Human Rights Act and the Disability Discrimination Act.
She said the Home Office could face accusations of discrimination through failing to make reasonable adjustments or have due regard to promoting disability equality.
Her letter said it was “abundantly clear” that Sharifi should not be travelling because of his health conditions, and there was “a very strong and compelling case” for allowing him to remain in the UK as he would not receive support for his mental health problems in Afghanistan.
A Home Office spokeswoman declined to discuss the case but said Sharifi had “exhausted all his appeal processes and he is now being returned” to Afghanistan.
She said: “Where the UK Border Agency and the independent courts decide that someone does not need our protection we will seek to remove them once they have exhausted their right to appeal.”
29 July 2009