Journalist asylum-seeker released from detention

Sheffield man wins latest round in prolonged litigation. Marishka Van Steenbergen is keeping watch on the case for the Northerner

Sheffield asylum-seeker Bernard Mboueyeu returned home to his wife on Friday after spending five weeks in detention pending deportation to Cameroon, as reported in the Guardian Northerner.

Mboueyeu, who fears persecution and jail if he is deported to Cameroon, was detained by the UK Border Agency on 10 July with a deportation flight booked for the 16 July. However, Mboueyeu’s deportation was cancelled after he attempted suicide by drinking cleaning fluid the night before his flight.

Mboueyeu fled his homeland of Cameroon in 2007 after he was allegedly beaten up and tortured by the ruling regime for supporting opposition groups. The treatment followed his arrest by President Paul Biya’s security forces for taking photographs of students being attacked during protests in 2006.
Supporters say that the journalist, who was working for a newspaper in southern Cameroon at the time, was stripped naked, beaten up and kept in jail for forty days.

After living in Sheffield for three years, Mboueyeu met and married charity worker Sharon in 2010. Shortly after the marriage the Home Office insisted that Mboueyeu return to Cameroon to apply for a spouse’s visa.

Mboueyeu offered to return voluntarily to Cameroon if the Home Office could guarantee his safety, but supporters say that the Home Office was unable to make that guarantee. His supporters say that if he is returned, he could be arrested, face torture, or be locked up indefinitely.

Before Mboueyeu was detained by the UK Border Agency, his solicitors were preparing a case for a judicial hearing on 9 August, which was allowed to go ahead following the cancellation of the deportation flight on 16 July.
Mboueyeu’s wife Sharon, who lives in Wincobank, Sheffield, says:

At the hearing the Home Office barrister said that Bernard was a ‘daytime grandfather’ because we don’t live with my daughter. He also said that we made the authorities in Cameroon aware of Bernard because we went to the media for support.

Bernard won because we had a social worker report on the role Bernard plays in the lives of our grandchildren and because Amnesty International took on Bernard’s case.

I could not believe how the Home Office tried to make him look bad and now he has to report twice a week – I think because they are annoyed that we won.

Mboueyue, who has been released without bail, said that Amnesty International wrote a letter in support of his case detailing Cameroon’s record of gross human rights violations and how political opposition is not tolerated and is often suppressed through violence. Mboueyue said that Amnesty International’s letter expressed concern about the fact that he is known in Cameroon and would be detained and persecuted if he returned to his home country.

Pending judicial review, he hopes to gain leave to remain in the UK. He thanked those who supported him and said:

It is great to be home with my wife and family, I am so pleased to be home.

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London 2012: seven Cameroonian athletes go missing from Olympics

Team officials say that five boxers, a swimmer and a footballer have disappeared, possibly to claim asylum

Seven Olympic athletes have disappeared amid fears they have fled the London 2012 Games to claim asylum, according to team officials.

Five boxers, a swimmer and a footballer from Cameroon were reported missing earlier this week leading team officials to suggest they had “defected.”

“What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true,” David Ojong, the Cameroon mission head said. “Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village.”

The Cameroonian athletes have not broken British immigration rules introduced for the Olympics that allow competitors, their coaches and families to stay in the country until early November.

But the athletes’ disappearance and Ojong’s comments have received widespread attention in Cameroon, where people said they were embarrassed by the news but understood the predicament facing the athletes.

“The conditions in Cameroon are very difficult – there are no opportunities here and if you have the chance to go the UK, it’s understandable that you would want to stay there,” said Henri Tchounga, a tour guide in Yaounde. “But my fear is that now Cameroonians will have a bad reputation and in future we will not be able to get visas. It’s good for them but a serious problem for the rest of us.”

Ojong said a reserve goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, Drusille Ngako, was the first to disappear. She was not one of the 18 finally retained after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.

While her team-mates left for Coventry for their last preparatory encounter against New Zealand, she vanished. A few days later, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue disappeared along with his personal belongings.

Ojong added that five boxers eliminated from the Games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, went missing on Sunday from the Olympic village. It was reported that four of the athletes were last seen at a team reception at the Royal Garden hotel, next to Kensington Palace, west London, on Friday.

Ojong is understood to have held talks with the sports minister Adoum Garoua at the Olympic Village on Tuesday.

It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions.

At past Francophonie and Commonwealth games as well as junior soccer competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.

In June, an Ethiopian torchbearer, Natnael Yemane, 15, also disappeared after he went missing from a hotel in Nottingham.

Meanwhile three Sudanese athletes who hoped to compete in the Games were last month reported missing amid claims they would apply for political asylum.

Flaubert Mbiekop, an economist from Cameroon, said: “The bottom line is to look at the economic conditions in Cameroon and see how hard the system is for many people, especially the athletes who don’t receive any support from the government. London presented an opportunity; I’m not at all surprised that they took it.”

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