Innocent Must Stay Campaign
Innocent is a 35 year old
university graduate who fled homophobic and political persecution in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Discrimination against his sexual orientation was in his everyday life in a country where homosexuality is against Congolese tradition and thought to be against "God's law". The Home Office's own DRC Country Information Policy Unit (CIPU) April 2005 report states "Traditionally, homosexuality was regarded as a crime against nature and homosexuals could be punished in accordance with local tradition" and "This might included being ostracised or segregated". The fact is that homosexuals are not given protection by the authorities in the DRC.
Innocent was arrested by the Congolese authorities at various times between 1992 and 2005. He was detained on 3rd June 2004 because he participated in a march against the UN inactivity when they failed to protect the Congolese people in Bukavu allowing the Rwandan troops into the province. In January 2005, his homosexuality and political views brought him into conflict with the Government. His partner's family accused him of being responsible for their son's death. They attacked and tried to kill him, and because of the incident the authorities found political leaflets on him and arrested him on his way to the demonstration he had helped to organize.
Following his arrest, Innocent
was made to "choose" between a 15 year jail sentence in prison and
"volunteering" for Secret Service Training. As part of this Training,
Innocent was asked to kill prisoners. By refusing to obey to the cruel
order, he was detained in the Buluwo prison. He suffered rape, beatings,
torture, malnutrition and a lack of health facilities. Indeed, the DRC CIPU
report describes conditions of imprisonment there as "harsh and life
threatening". "Malnutrition was widespread" resulting in deaths, "prison
guards frequently required bribes from family members to visit or provide
food", "detainees were regularly abused, beaten and tortured", there were
"usually no toilets, or mattresses, or medical care", and "inmates often
received insufficient amounts of light, air and water".
This year the asylum tribunal (DRC CG  UKIAT 00118) noted that "failed" asylum seekers returned to the DRC are at risk if they have a political background and the fact that returns are "closely scrutinised" goes to the likelihood of that background coming to light. Furthermore, that any returnee identified as a "failed" asylum seeker is risk of "harassment" by officials who are "motivated for financial reasons using returnees as a potential source of income". The returnee would be required to pay a "fine", else face further imprisonment. The UK has no monitoring mechanism for systematically tracking the welfare of failed asylum seekers it removes from the UK to the DRC.
Innocent was very lucky to escape from prison and reach safety in the UK. He faces a real risk of persecution and will be in a great danger if returned to the DRC, including being detained and subjected to the above mentioned conditions once again.
Despite his terrible experiences, Innocent is very well integrated into the Tameside Community. He does voluntary work such as English and French interpretation and translation, and gives French lessons. Innocent is a full-time student at the Tameside College and attends church services locally. He is a member of the Tameside Credit Union, and the Tameside African Refugee Association, where he is the Secretary. It is not acceptable that Innocent should be forcibly uprooted and sent back to a situation where his safety cannot be guaranteed. Innocent is making himself an asset to British society and is culturally well adapted.
The Home Office dismissed Innocent's case. However, a fresh claim is being made on the basis of new evidence.
You can help by:
1. Friends and supporters have set up a writing and Petition campaign to persuade Tony McNulty, the Minister for Immigration, on the strength of Innocent's links to the community and the community's links to Innocent, and that he should be allowed to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds.
The campaign has drawn up a Model Letter (attached) which you could copy/amend, or better still, write your own version with your own comments (please use Innocent's full name and Home Office Reference Number - Innocent-Prosper Nkung Empi, Home Office Ref.: N1106895). There is also a Petition attached (blank sheets can be photocopied).
The campaign is asking everyone to make copies of and sign the Petition and Model Letter (or to write their own), and get as many other people as possible to do the same, and return them to the campaign at the below address.
When they have collected enough letters and completed petition sheets, the campaign will get them presented to the Minister for Immigration, possibly by their local MP
"Innocent Must Stay Campaign"
124 Stamford Street,
Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL6 6AD
Tel. 07871 676129 / 0161 330 6696
2. Send an e-mail of support to Innocent - email@example.com
3. Raising this matter with your MP or local councillor
4. Invite Innocent to speak at a meeting of your organization
5. Sign the Resolution of Support (attached) and return to the campaign at the above address
Thank You ! Your support can make a difference !