JoJo’s asylum decision delayed by medical evidence

Tony Grew May 28, 2008
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A gay Syrian claiming asylum in the UK has been told that he must wait for a case review hearing before he will receive a decision from an immigration tribunal on whether or not he can remain in the UK.

JoJo Jako Jacob, who is 19, claims he will be executed if he is returned to Syria.

He escaped two years ago after suffering severe abuse at the hands of the Syrian police and prison guards when he was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.

After discovering he was homosexual, he says prison guards beat him so severely that he fell into a coma.

At a recent hearing, British government officials accused him of lying about his sexuality and his treatment by the Syrian police.

The tribunal judges accepted he is gay.

Now JoJo has been told that a ‘case review hearing’ is needed to review medical evidence, related to torture, before he receives a decision from the hearing.

JoJo is currently on ‘bail’ and staying in the home of a supporter in Edinburgh.

Campaigners have highlighted the behaviour of the Home Office, which offered Jojo £46 to go back to Syria and sent him a letter every week asking his permission to be repatriated.

Members of the Scottish Parliament have called on the government not to deport him.

A cross-party motion in the Scottish Parliament in support of JoJo and calling for an immediate moratorium on the deportation of gay and lesbian refugees has been backed by more than 20 MSPs.

Campaigners have written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to plead for leniency for JoJo.

His case story echoes that of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi, who earlier this month was given leave to remain in the UK for five years.

His deportation was reviewed following the intervention of more than 60 members of the House of Lords asking for the Home Office to “show compassion.”

Mr Kazemi, 20, was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.

The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.

His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland, although he was eventually returned to the UK.

Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown told peers that his case will not lead to a moratorium on deportations to Iran.

Human rights groups claim that thousands of people have been executed in Iran for same-sex offences.

“Noble Lords will recognise that we must preserve the right to deal with these matters on a case-by case-basis,” he told the House of Lords.

“That is at the heart of our approach to asylum.”

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