A Bangladeshi man, who fled his country and settled in Jersey over fears he could be killed for his political beliefs, is fighting against a refusal of his application for asylum.
The man (then 27), whose identity has been protected, was detained after a search of the St. Helier restaurant by Customs and Immigration officials in August 2017.
He was subsequently taken to La Moye Prison, which was treated as an interim holding facility for him while authorities sought to establish whether he should be allowed to stay.
Pictured: The asylum seeker is from Bangladesh, a country to the east of India.
But this application was refused. A report was prepared for the Assistant Home Affairs Minister in January 2018, which led to a refusal. She then revoked this rejection, and the man was allowed to provide further submissions. Those submissions, along with the report, were then given to the Minister for Home Affairs in August 2018.
He indicated to the Customs and Immigration Service that there were "inconsistencies" in the applicant's evidence, and that certain parts of his case were not accepted. His reasons for the refusal were formalised and provided to the asylum seeker in September.
His case this month reached the Royal Court, as the Bangladeshi national sought permission for a judicial review of the decision.
Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq, presiding, heard that the man was a member of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and had left his country in 2012. He went to the UK using a student visa before travelling to Jersey in 2017.
He argued that the ruling party in his country, the Awami League, victimised those who oppose it – even suggesting that security services there were “complicit” in the persecutions, going so far as to “murder” political opponents.
Pictured: The case was heard in the Royal Court.
The man said that he had already faced problems for his beliefs, having allegedly been falsely charged by Bangladeshi authorities after attending two BNP demonstrations in 2007 and 2008.
“The claim for asylum is based on the Applicant’s fear that if he is returned to Bangladesh his life and liberty will be in danger and he will otherwise face acts of persecution by agents of the state or by non-state agents acting with the aid or explicit approval of the state,” the Deputy Bailiff summarised in his judgment.
During the hearing, Deputy Bailiff heard that human rights arguments needed to be taken into consideration, as sending him back to Bangladesh could conflict with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life.
He also heard criticisms of the Home Affairs Minister’s approach to the application, as he had first given his reasons orally, then informally, before setting them out formally. This, the asylum seeker’s advocate suggested, could be seen as “retrospective rationalisation”.
It was further suggested that the reasoning behind the asylum application refusal was “inadequate” and drew “incorrect” or “illogical” conclusions.
Furthermore, there was concern that the decision could breach Jersey’s Immigration Rules, which stated that a someone living on the island should not be deported to a country “in which his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group”.
“It seems to me that the consequences to the Applicant of the decision are profound and in my judgment there is an arguable ground for judicial review having a realistic prospect of success,” the Deputy Bailiff concluded.
He subsequently granted the application for leave to apply for judicial review.
Jersey rarely has to deal with asylum applications, but last year an application from a victim of torture from Syria came before the Royal Court. The Customs and Immigration Service rejected the claim, but the island's Royal Court ruled in December that he should be allowed to appeal against this decision.
In 2010, Customs and Immigration officials identified three instances of Bangladeshi nationals working illegally in the island, having arrived from the UK. They said that this was how they had managed to avoid Jersey's immigration controls. At the time, they pledged to monitor the "small, but worrying, trend".
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