The move has been condemned by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and solicitors are mounting last-ditch legal challenges. Many of the refugees are long-time UK residents, with families and community ties.
NCADC has spoken today with several Iraqis in detention who are all fearful of what may await them on arrival. Kurdish deportees have been abused by Iraqi guards in previous charter flights. They know that their home towns are unsafe, but are also worried about how they will get there from Baghdad. See the NCADC blog for the latest news.
Solicitors have applied for an injunction to stop the flight, on the grounds that previously forcibly returned persons (particularly, but not exclusively Kurdish) have been subjected to detention and serious mistreatment by the Iraqi authorities. One of the detainees seeking an injunction is Ali Ako, who has been in constant contact with NCADC since being detained earlier this month. Ali is terrified of being detained in Iraq.
The solicitors believe that Ali, like the others included in the legal challenge, are at a very real risk of being subjected to treatment that amounts to ‘torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The UK as a signatory to the ECHR has pledged ‘not to expel someone…where substantial grounds are shown that…he will face a real risk of being subjected to treatment contract to Article 3’.
Adam Aziz Ali is another detainee. Adam has been in the UK for four years, and was planning to marry his partner Joanne. Speaking by phone on her way to see Adam’s solicitor today, Joanne told NCADC that she has hardly slept for days. She has asked that NCADC supporters send emails and faxes to the Home Secretary in one last push to persuade her to take Adam off the flight. See the campaign page for model letters to use.