Roseline Akhalu won a prestigious and highly competitive Ford Foundation scholarship to the University of Leeds to study for a Masters degree in Development Studies in 2004. After her studies she planned to return to her native Nigeria to promote the cause of girls’ education from poor rural backgrounds like her own. Rose chose to study in the UK rather than the United States because she could complete her Masters in less time and thus return sooner.
During the course of her studies, Roseline was diagnosed with end stage renal failure, and was put on kidney dialysis. In 2009 her doctors at St James Hospital were able to find a donor match and a kidney transplant was successfully undertaken. Nevertheless, Roseline’s condition still requires constant medication and frequent monitoring. Her health will never be what it once was.
Roseline was twice detained by UK Border Agency officials in 2012 and during the first trip to Yarl’s Wood she developed a urinary tract infection as a result of the security escort company, Reliance, refusing to allow her a toilet stop after several hours despite her serious kidney condition [report].
Notwithstanding Roseline’s health difficulties and the refusal of the Home Office to grant her leave to remain, for many years Rose has significantly contributed to the life of her Catholic church where she is a much-loved member of the congregation. It is no surprise therefore that at her immigration tribunal hearing in Bradford on 21 November 2012, the court room was full of her fellow parishioners and supporters from across Yorkshire, many of whom had written moving letters to the court begging for the government not to take Rose away from them.
Long running coverage and support has come from the National Kidney Federation, from Madeleine Moon MP on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group, from the local press and radio as well as national television, newspapers, periodicals and blogs including The Yorkshire Post, BBC Radio Leeds, Radio Aire, The Guardian, the New Statesman, ITV News, Channel 4 News and OpenDemocracy. Over 1,600 people from the UK and around the world have signed an online petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-transplant-patient-roseline-ak.html on behalf of Roseline and many hundreds more have signed a paper equivalent.
At her tribunal hearing the Home Office accepted the evidence that Roseline would, if removed to Nigeria, not be able to afford the immunosuppressant drugs she needs to survive. In other words, she would die a painful death and within a matter of weeks. Nevertheless, the Home Office continued to maintain that her removal was proportionate and not in breach of her human rights.
Immigration Judge Saffer, after considering all the evidence, found that this was an unusual case where the removal of Roseline would breach her right to a private and family life protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Judge found that Roseline had established a private life of value to her, members of the Church and the wider community. He took note of the fact that Roseline came here legally, was diagnosed whilst here legally, that the cost of her ongoing treatment was not excessive and that she would die quickly in distressing circumstances if returned. After considering all the evidence he found that the Home Secretary should have granted Roseline leave to remain and allowed the appeal [report].
The Home Office then sought further leave to appeal against the First Tier Immigration Tribunal, which was refused by the reviewing judge in December who found no grounds in law for challenging Judge Saffer’s determination.
On 11 February of this year, Ms Akhalu’s MP, Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) asked why too many UKBA decisions are still wrong and the process is taking far too long, in which case does the Home Secretary not think it extraordinary that, notwithstanding the clear ruling of a judge on 29 November and previous tribunal decisions, UKBA is still seeking to prevent Roseline Akhalu from staying in this country, despite the fact that if she is deported she will die?
The Home Secretary has not to our knowledge replied to the individual case, which she mistakenly assumed had followed a conventional asylum application. Instead her law officers decided to lodge an appeal with the Upper Immigration Tribunal which has been allowed and is scheduled to be heard on 16 July 2013 in London.
We are urging all friends and supporters of Rose to write to the Home Secretary to demand that she call off this vindictive pursuit of a sick and vulnerable woman who is loved and cherished in her Leeds community. Please click here for a model letter and feel free to adapt and put into your own words. Please send a copy of your letter and if possible a scan of any reply from the Home Office to firstname.lastname@example.org
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