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BWRAP | 14.04.2006 09:51 | Migration | Repression

Apologies for any cross-posting

Please send urgent letters of support calling for Ms Chalimpa's removal later today to be stopped and for her to be released from detention and allowed access to the expert psychiatric and other support she urgently needs - see details below.

Since the age of six Ms Chalimpa suffered many years of repeated rape and other violence, first by members of the Lord’s Revolutionary Army (LRA), who abducted her and forced her to become a child soldier, and then by a so-called “sponsor” to whom she was sold after escaping from the LRA. As a result of her horrific experiences Ms Chalimpa suffers from severe depression and other mental health problems. Since being in the UK she has been sectioned on several occasions but despite this she was detained in Yarl’s Wood in June 2005. In July 2006 she joined other Ugandan women on hunger strike to protest against their imminent deportations and the terrible conditions in detention.

But despite her brave protest, including speaking out publicly about her situation, Ms Chalimpa has remained in detention. Her asylum claim was “fast tracked”, a procedure the Home Office claims is only reserved for so-called “straightforward” cases. As is the experience of the majority of the women subjected to the fast track in Yarl’s Wood, Ms Chalimpa’s lawyer withdrew representation at appeal because she was deemed to have a less than 50% chance of success. She had to try to represent herself at the hearing despite being in a confused and distressed state. She explained that the last time she was in Uganda she was arrested, imprisoned and beaten by the police for kissing another woman in a nightclub. But her account was dismissed and she was told it was safe for her to be returned to Uganda. Yet she has no family, friends or support networks there and will be homeless and destitute if returned. We know of other women returned to Uganda who were detained at the airport until a bribe was paid to release them – Ms Chalimpa has no-one who might help in this way.

Subsequent attempts to get Ms Chalimpa’s asylum claim reopened, so she could have the benefit of legal representation and psychiatric and other expert evidence, failed. Ms Chalimpa’s mental health has deteriorated after nine months of detention and the constant fear of what will happen to her next. She has tried to take her life twice in Yarl’s Wood and was only returned there from a secure psychiatric unit two weeks ago where she has been hospitalised twice since being detained. She is currently heavily medicated and on suicide watch, yet the Home Office claim she is “fit to travel” and intend to proceed with her removal tonight. Because she has been unable to find a lawyer, no independent psychiatric evidence has been commissioned about the likely impact of removal on Ms Chalimpa’s mental health and well-being and there are no services in Uganda which she could access for the intensive support she needs. To proceed with her removal without this is a terrible injustice and we calling for her flight to be stopped.


Please Fax or email letters to the authorities:

Press the Home Office to cancel the deportation & detention of Ms Chalimpa

Minister of State, Home Office, Tony McNulty, fax: 020 7219 2417

Send copies of your letters to Alistair Burt, who has agreed to make representations on Ms Chalimpa’s behalf, and Black Women’s Rape Action Project

Phone Ethiopian airlines and urge them not to carry this traumatised and suicidal woman Tel: 020 8745 4234

Circulate this appeal as widely as you can - to your friends and the organisations/churches you know.