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British Government Wins Case Against Darfuri Asylum Seekers


The British House of Lords has ruled three Darfuri asylum seekers can be sent to Khartoum. The British government had appealed to the House of Lords after the Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that the three should not be sent to Sudan. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.

The Law Lords, who are the members of the House of Lords who serve as a panel of last appeal in Great Britain, set aside the Court of Appeal's ruling. The court had ruled the three Darfuris should not be sent back to camps in Khartoum as conditions there were "unduly harsh." The three had appealed a ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that would have sent them back to the Sudanese capital.

The Home Office appealed the decision on the basis that the court had not found that the non-Arab Darfuris would face mistreatment in Khartoum.

The Lords' ruling clears the way for the Home Office to send the Darfuri asylum seekers to Khartoum. But Aegis Trust a non-governmental organization that has been acting on behalf of the Darfuris hopes that proof that failed asylum seekers face abuse when they are sent back to Khartoum may still win the asylum seekers a reprieve.

The evidence was presented to the government after the Court of Appeal's ruling. A spokesman for Aegis Trust, Stephen Twigg says he hopes the government will declare Sudan a country that tortures political opponents.

"We contacted the government about a month ago with a dossier of evidence of Darfuris who had been returned to Sudan and who had faced beating, torture, disappearance, imprisonment," he said. "To the government's credit the minister Liam Byrne gave a commitment to review the country status of Sudan, so we are hopeful that the government will indeed conduct that review and will conclude that its simply not safe to send Darfuris back to any part of Sudan while the present situation continues."

A representative of Darfuris in the United Kingdom, Abdul Jabbar Sharaf Hassan Adam, expressed dismay at the ruling.

"If the Home Office decided to return some people to Khartoum the first question the security of Khartoum will ask those people is why they went to Britain; [they] went to Britain that means they are against the government. Definitely the torture will begin," he said.

The Home Office has not said what will happen to the three failed Darfuri asylum seekers. Its only reaction was a statement that said Britain would continue to uphold its proud tradition of providing humanitarian protection. The statement added that the government would do everything it can do to help those who do not need its protection to go home voluntarily.

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