Immigration officials in Jersey are to reconsider the rejected asylum claim of a Syrian torture victim, who attempted suicide when his application to remain here was kicked out.
The man, who can’t be named to protect his safety, saw his asylum claim turned down just over a month ago and now faces being sent back to mainland Europe, where he previously made a separate claim.
The result led his legal representative, Advocate Sarah Dale, to hit out at the island’s approach to dealing with asylum claims, involving an alleged “failure” to consider his human rights and an interview in which he was treated like a criminal.
Born in Syria and having lived most of his life there, the man was forced to flee to mainland Europe some years ago after being captured and suffering “very serious persecution and torture.” He then made a claim for asylum, which is still pending three years down the line.
Pictured: The case was heard in the Royal Court yesterday.
But he didn’t achieve safety upon his arrival. Advocate Dale said that almost immediately after he reaching Europe, he was physically assaulted so gravely that he was hospitalised. Even when he was moved by authorities, he continued to be receive “very serious threats” of beheading. Advocate Dale said this caused severe psychiatric trauma on top of PTSD caused by the extreme forms of torture he was subjected to in Syria.
He therefore had a history of suicide attempts, Advocate Dale explained, with the most recent taking place in Jersey when he was told he would be ejected from the island.
“This demonstrates the real level of fear he has to be sent back... Likewise, the small dinghy landing… shows the extreme measures he has taken to escape persecution,” said Advocate Dale.
Advocate Dale explained the man chose to come to Jersey as the ‘Dublin Regulation’ – a piece of legislation determining where refugee claims should be decided – does not apply on the island. Upon his arrival, he went straight to the police station, telling officers that he was there to claim asylum.
Urging consideration of his human rights, Advocate Dale explained that European authorities had not been able to keep him safe and that he had been forced to avoid public places.
“He is constant fear for his life, living in close confines of his flat waiting for next threat or attack… In my client’s mind, if he is returned to Europe, either he will be killed by the extremist or his life will end in suicide. Sending him back is going to cause a significant deterioration in his mental health,” she told the Royal Court.
Jersey authorities were also criticised by the advocate over their treatment of the man, whose asylum interview she described as resembling a criminal investigation. She added that it had taken nearly a month for him to be referred to a psychologist following his suicide attempt.
“Unsurprisingly, Jersey is not prepared for asylum claims. It doesn’t not happen very often here… There has been an on-going failure to consider his human rights,” she commented.
Pictured: The Deputy Bailiff decided to put all proceedings on hold to give officials time to consider a psychological report.
Legal Adviser Steven Meiklejohn told Court that at the time officials made their decision they hadn’t had a chance “to fully digest the psychological report” describing the man’s trauma.
He also said that the man had not only failed to mention any psychological issues but also positively denied he had any. “He said he wasn’t taking any medication or suffering from any psychiatric history,” he added.
Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq QC, presiding, concluded that it was in the interest of both parties that Advocate Dale’s application be adjourned to give Customs and Immigration – the department behind the refusal – time to make a fresh decision based on the man's psychological state.
The order to send the man back to Europe is on hold in the meantime.
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