Congolese failed asylum seekers from Tees Valley still being tortured in Kinshasa

001A SEQUEL to a ground-breaking report by a North-East human rights charity claims failed asylum seekers are still being tortured after being sent back to the African country they fled from, two years after calling for a delay to deportations.

Justice First is believed to have produced the first document of its kind in 2011 when it traced the fate of 15 men women and children forced to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after settling in the Tees Valley waiting to hear their fate.

Its updated version, ‘Unsafe Return 2’ which has tracked 11 people removed between November 2011 and September 2013 reveals that persecution is still taking place.

It has evidence that returnees from the UK have been detained at N’djili airport in the capital Kinshasa or at home and have been interrogated and ill-treated by the Congolese authorities.

And as many of three out of 11 returnees whose post-return was monitored in 2012 are feared dead.

Its original report, ‘Unsafe Return’ which followed deportees between 2006 and 2011 alleged catalogues of torture interrogation, electric shock treatment and rape.

The UK Border Agency said: “Asylum is protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country. It is given under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees. To be recognised as a refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you have a well-founded fear of persecution.”

Based on the new evidence collated by project worker Catherine Ramos at Justice First, it is now demanding that there is a moratorium on removals to DRC, an independent document centre is set up and all Home Office documents relating to DRC are reviewed.

“The Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office reassures MPs that returnees and their families in the UK can contact the British Embassy in the DRC about any problems post return,” Mrs Ramos explained.

“Returnees have said they feel they cannot approach the British Embassy for help as the British authorities have declared their account of persecution, which led to the initial application for asylum, not credible.

“The British Embassy is located very near the residence of President Kabila where dissidents have been imprisoned in cells and tortured. The British Embassy allowed one man to be taken back to prison, where he was subjected to torture. He had begged for help.”

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