Monday, 10 May 2010

Last Minute Reprieve

What kind of country sentences someone to 84 days in prison for urinating in public, then rearrests them once they have served their sentence and goes on to hold them for three and a half more years on the basis of the same conviction, leaving them severely traumatised and in need of psychiatric care? Well, one that believes itself to be the epitome of enlightenment and human rights.

Yes, you've guessed it: the UK!

Pakistani born Asif Rashid came to the UK in 2001 and was granted temporary leave to remain whilst his asylum claim was being assessed. On 3 December 2001 his claim was rejected and he appealed. This was dismissed in June 2003, as were subsequent applications. In 2006 he was 'caught short' due to a medical complaint and caught urinating on a canal towpath. Convicted of urinating in public, he received an 84 day prison sentence. Excessive one might think, especially when one considers what happens on the average town and city centre street on weekend nights.

Then later that year after having served his sentence he was detained whilst reporting at local reporting centre and told he was being deported as a 'foreign national offender'. So far a fairly normal story, one involving the grossly unfair double punishment introduced by New Labour in order to bolster their anti-immigration credentials. However, insult was added to injury when Mr Rashid was then banged up (ironically) in a ‘fast track removal centre’ for the next 3 years as the bureaucratic wheels slowly ground towards his inevitable deportation.

All the time his mental health steadily deteriorated despite the authorities having ample opportunity to bail him pending his removal. Eventually the UKBA arranged his travel documents and he was scheduled to be deported to Pakistan today (10 May) on a PIA flight. Fortunately for him however, Refugee and Migrant Justice and the UK-based Association of Pakistani Lawyers got involved in his case, challenging Mr Rashid's continued detention and have now won an injunction preventing his deportation.

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