Monday, 23 February 2009

Souhalia Family From Hove Finally Deported

Early on the morning of 11th February Assia Souhalia and her husband Athmane, who had been in the UK since 2002, and their 2 year old Brighton-born daughter Nouha were snatched in a dawn raid. They were served with a (IS151A) removal notice and moved to the Yarl's Wood immigration prison prior to a planned deportation to Algeria on the following Tuesday.

Assia Souhalia fled Algeria in fear for her life in 2002 after her family had suffered years of violence. Two of her brothers, Rachid and Brahim, both policemen, were murdered in two separate premeditated shootings in the early '90's. The family continued to receive death threats and 2 of Assia's remaining brothers and sisters soon fled Algiers in fear of their lives. Assia followed in 2002, travelling to the UK with the help of family members. Here she and her husband had laid down strong roots in the local community.

A campaign was started demanding that Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, guarantees that the Souhalias be allowed to peruse an appeal under Section 82 (1) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. In addition, the fact that a minor was involved should also ensured an appeal on the grounds of infringement of human rights under S84 of the same Act.

On the morning of the 17th, campaigners from Brighton and London travelled to Heathrow to talk to and leaflet passengers and crew of 0840 BA flight (BA 895) to try and persuade them to put pressure on the pilot and help halt the deportation. Shortly before the flight was due to leave, the family were returned to Yarls Wood. Assia texted campaigners that there had been a 'problem with the ticket'. Much more likely was that the actions of the campaigners, as in other similar cases, had had their effect and the pilot had refused to take them.

However, on the following Friday the Souhalias were booked on to an Air Algerie flight this time. Activists again tried the same tactics but the passengers and crew were far less sympathetic, with the pilot saying that he was "only carrying out regulations." Despite Assia and Athmane's best efforts to win the right to remain, they were reported to finally be resigned to their fate as nthe flight took off.

During this deportation case the Home Office has blatantly failed to follow their own procedures, as they do in so many of these cases. The deportation went ahead with out recourse to a clearly defined appeal process and the appeals of the community where the family had made their home were ignored. The Home Office as per usual is ruled solely by the desire to fulfil their deportation quotas, and the rights of 'Johnny Foreigner' under the European Convention of Human Rights can go hang!

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