Sierra Leone man given chance for Scots asylum

The case is being heard at the Court of Session. Picture: Greg Macvean
The case is being heard at the Court of Session. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A COMMITTED Christian who fears he would be targeted by a secret society in his home country of Sierra Leone has been given a second chance by a judge to seek asylum in Scotland.

The man, DEF, was told in 2010 by immigration officials on behalf of the home secretary, Theresa May, that his claim was “clearly unfounded”. Lawyers made further submissions on his behalf, but those were rejected last year.

Lord Bannatyne said at the Court of Session in Edinburgh that Mrs May’s approach had been “flawed.” He criticised her for leaving out of consideration in her review of the evidence material factors which could have been favourable to DEF. His case will now be considered again.

The court heard that DEF obtained a degree in science and became a school teacher and an outreach co-ordinator for his church. His father had been the leader of a local branch of the Poro, a secret society which was said to be politically well connected and able to act with impunity.

After his father’s death, DEF was required to take over as a local leader, but he refused. He learned of a plan to kidnap him and put him through an initiation ceremony involving circumcision. He fled, and took the chance to claim asylum while travelling via the UK to a conference in Barbados.

Lord Bannatyne said the home secretary had made no adverse comments about DEF’s credibility and his account of what had happened to him in Sierra Leone.

“(She), it appears to me, in the decision letter does not consider the individual circumstances of (DEF). She merely brushes these aside. Rather, the approach is to analyse the objective evidence and say he does not fall into any of the categories of persons who, according to the objective evidence, would attract the attention of the Poro,” said the judge.

Mrs May had decided that there would be sufficient protection available for DEF in Sierra Leone, but Lord Bannatyne commented: “She fails to take into consideration relevant evidence showing systemic failure to deal with Poro activities by the Sierra Leone authorities.”