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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Eddy Cosmas freed from detention after one last (?) humiliation

Eddy on his release from Harmondsworth
By Paul Canning

Following a hearing today before an British immigration judge, Tanzanian gay asylum seeker Edson 'Eddy' Cosmas was released from Harmondsworth Removal Centre at 5pm and was also removed from the 'detained fast track' process.

Eddy has won a new hearing for his case after 5 September.

The judge's decision has not been written but a witness at the court hearing said that it was on the basis that previous immigration judiciary decisions could be regarded as possibly 'unsafe' and that more time was needed for both a psychiatrist's report as well as for an expert witness of the situation of LGBT in Tanzania to be found.

The witness said that a Home Office lawyer had immediately agreed that there could be 'an error in law' in how Eddy's case had been handled. In removing Eddy from 'detained fast track', the judge said that it would not be "fair" for him to remain in it.

The witness, a long term supporter of Eddy, said that without the support of herself and others "Eddy would have given up". She also noted that Eddy remained intensely concerned for other gay asylum seekers whom he had met in the detention centre.

In a statement released tonight, Donna Stern, BAMN [By Any Means Necessary, aka the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary] National Coordinator, claimed that:
"In part Eddy won this because he was organizing so much inside the detention facility that the authorities wanted him out of there!"
He has been the subject of a major campaign, initially by the group Movement for Justice, part of BAMN, of which he is a member, and later joined by the international LGBT campaigning group allout.org who secured over 7000 petitions to the British Home Secretary Theresa May.

We have followed the case closely and analysed the UK Border Agency's decisions as well as those of immigration judges in a series of posts, see:
Eddy reports that before today's hearing he was put through a (hopefully) final humiliation in detention

On Saturday (2 July) morning a guard came to his room and told him he was going to be transferred, but he wasn't told where to.

Last night guards came and told Eddy he had a legal meeting. This was not true, but not knowing Eddy went with them. Then in a corridor he was told he had to be transferred. He protested that he had a hearing the next day. They brought in about 10 guards (Eddy says managers were there too), to force him into a van which drove over to Colnbrook removal centre, which is literally next door, both being adjacent to Heathrow Airport. There he was kept without access to a phone, in a waiting area which had no bed, until 5am this morning.

He says he got no sleep, had no access to call anyone, nor to any of his papers or possessions. At 5am he was taken back over to Harmondsworth and then to today's hearing before a judge, who was informed of what had happened and that this would effect Eddy's ability to testify on his own behalf.
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