1. With his permission, let me tell you about @Ali_Albukhaiti, a well-known Yemeni political commentator who has been separated from his family for almost 1 year because the Home Office won't make a decision on his asylum claim.
2. In fear for his life because of his political activities, Ali fled Yemen in 2015. He relocated initially to Lebanon and then to Jordan. But his continued criticisms of different countries involved in the Yemeni conflict meant that he was no longer welcome in Jordan either.
3. In August 2019, within 48 hours of receiving serious threats, he left Jordan. He arrived in the UK and claimed asylum at the airport (according to the Home Office, "genuine" asylum seekers should all claim asylum at the airport so that should have scored in his favour)
4. Ali left his family (pregnant wife and 4 children) back in Jordan because they did not have a visa to come to the UK, and he was hopeful that he would be granted asylum quickly. That was not an easy decision to make, because...
5. their right of residence in Jordan was due to expire in December 2019, and could not be renewed as it depended on his own residence there. Ali was also scared that they would be targeted due to their affiliation to him.
6. Sadly, his fears proved to be well-founded. In December, his 17-year old daughter was charged with “blasphemy” and “insulting religious feelings”. Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the Jordanian authorities to drop the charges - https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/minor-trial-over-social-media-posts
7. In March 2020, increasingly fearful for his family, Ali instructed me to assist with his asylum claim. I wrote to the Home Office explaining the urgency of his claim, but only received a standard “all cases will be considered in date order”. No one engaged with the urgency
9. On 30 April, I initiated judicial review proceedings. On 14 May, the Home Office told us that, barring any exceptional circumstances, they will decide on whether to proceed and determine Ali’s claim without an interview within 2 weeks, that is by 28 May 2020.
10. We had to wait until 11 June, but were told that a decision would be made without an interview. Now, for the Home Office to reach that conclusion, they must have looked at Ali's case and concluded that they had all the information needed to make a decision.
11. We were then promised a decision within 4 to 6 weeks. I responded that, given that they must have looked at the case already, they didn't need all that time. On 16 June, I was told a decision would be made in 2 to 4 weeks. That meant a decision by 14 July.
12. 14 July comes and goes. I chase twice and, on 23 July, am told that a decision would be made within 3 weeks. There continues to be no explanation as to the delay.
13. During all this time, the family is separated; at risk of being removed to Yemen (a country facing one of the most serious humanitarian crisis ever); and his minor daughter is risking imprisonment. The Home Office knows all this, but no explanation is given for the delay.
14. On Wednesday, Ali's eldest daughter will turn 18. This means that an application for her to join him in the UK with the rest of the family will become 100% more complicated, for no reason at all.
15. Sadly, Ali's case is not unique.There are thousands of family separated by the Home Office. But please,don't talk to me about "UK’s tradition of providing a place of refugee to those in fear of persecution".If that were ever a tradition,you are certainly not honouring it now
You can follow @NathGbikpi.
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