I recently heard from a surgeon, forcibly removed from UK to his homeland 10 months ago. I came to know him when tutoring a programme that supports refugee doctors to prepare for exams and General Medical Council (GMC) registration to work in the NHS.
Fearful of renewed persecution he is now hiding in a remote area of his country. He is unable to resume work in healthcare as he needs to keep a very low profile, avoiding his relatives to protect them and living in great deprivation. He developed typhoid fever two weeks ago but was too scared to seek hospital care and treated himself inadequately under great poverty.
I feel it important to bear witness to the suffering faced by those who are forcibly repatriated when refused sanctuary. All have been deemed “not credible”.
This is facilitated by the contrived double jeopardy of the UK’s two interview system. People who claim asylum in the UK are first interrogated at the port of entry while exhausted and confused. Many weeks later they face 200+ questions in a stressful 2-4 hour second interview. Unlike any British citizen when facing a charge, asylum seekers with no knowledge of our complex asylum system and constantly changing immigration laws rarely have a solicitor to advise them. Home Office decision-makers and counsel at appeals focus upon discrepancies between the statements made on those two occasions. In my long experience, such discrepancies are often only obliquely related to the index story. These justify a formal refusal to accept the truth of that story in its entirety. Refused claimants are then returned to their country of origin on the grounds that they have no fear of persecution.
I wrote to the Home Secretary Priti Patel about this intrinsic challenge to fair decision-making, mentioning that 15 European nations, Canada and New Zealand operate a single interview system with legal representation mandatory for all people seeking sanctuary.