Fate of refugee in fear for his life in hands of the Royal Court

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In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Jersey, the man – who has been living as a refugee in a European state – is appealing against a decision to return him to that country. An interim injunction blocking his deportation was previously granted and Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq will rule on the case.

The Royal Court heard yesterday that the man – who cannot be identified – says he has faced persecution from ISIS in the European country and his life is in danger should he be deported from the Island.

Advocate Sarah Dale, representing the asylum seeker, claimed that even if the country could be considered ‘safe’, the fear of being targeted by terrorists had left her client with mental-health issues and that he would probably commit suicide if he was forced to leave.

The court heard that the man has already attempted suicide three times since arriving in Jersey, either after being told he would be deported or after hearing
that Customs had declined his asylum

After the man arrived in Jersey, the case was handed over to Customs, who rejected his asylum request on the grounds that he was not deemed to be at risk of significant physical threat in the European country where he lives.

Now the Royal Court must decide whether the man can stay in Jersey.

Advocate Sarah Dale said that proper consideration had not been given to the man’s mental wellbeing and that Jersey, under its human-rights obligations, had a responsibility to protect him.

Advocate Steven Meiklejohn, representing the Home Affairs Minister, said that there was no suggestion the asylum seeker was being persecuted by the European country’s government.

He said: ‘The authorities in [the country] have throughout said they would accept the applicant back and he would have access to the full mental-health services which are available.’

He added that the asylum seeker’s fear of persecution in the European country was ‘not objectively well founded’ and that the country was widely considered to be ‘safe’.

However, Advocate Dale argued that the mental-health treatment would have limited effect while the man was still in fear for his life.

She said: ‘The difficulty that there will be in the suggestion that he can seek assistance is that he has the wider problem that he continues to feel persecuted.

‘If it is the case that it is acceptable that he is continuing to move around the country to protect himself there will be no continuity in the treatment that he tries to obtain.

‘If he is going to continue to be at risk to himself, then surely the only way they [the country’s authorities] can protect him is be constant attention. I would say that is a breach of human rights in itself.

‘To continue to detain somebody to stop them from committing suicide when you can’t effectively treat the problem means he is simply being detained for no reason.’

Mr Le Cocq suggested that any perceived threat in Europe could just as easily be made in Jersey and that it was ‘impossible for any nation to be able to give an absolute guarantee of safety’.

However, Advocate Dale argued that he was far safer in Jersey, as he would be ‘targeted over there’ and it would be ‘unlikely that [those persecuting him] would be able to come and locate him’.

At a previous hearing, the court heard on one occasion the asylum seeker had returned home to find a knife stabbed into the top of his refrigerator and an ISIS logo attached to the door.

Mr Le Cocq was sitting alone for the case. No date has been given for a ruling.

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