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Charles Atangana campaign prepares for judicial review

28 July 2010

The campaign to support Charles Atangana has turned its attention to the detailed work of winning a judicial review of the case. The aim of the campaign is that Charles Atanga will finally be permitted to remain permanently in the UK as a refugee journalist who has fled torture, detention without trial and death threats.

The new work follows the success of the nationwide, NUJ-led campaign to secure Charles Atangana's release from Home Office detention. Dozens of NUJ members and supporters held a protest outside the court hearing in London on 12 August when Charles was released on bail.

Charles Atangana said:

"There is something seriously wrong with the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK."

Currently living at a bail hostel, the Cameroon-born journalist is again researching human rights abuses in his native country, but now using facilities at the NUJ's Headland House office.

In the six weeks since he was arrested in Glasgow, where he has lived since fleeing Cameroon in 2004, Charles Atangana had been moved between three deportation centres – Pennine House in Manchester, Colnbrook removal centre in London and The Citadel immigration removal centre in Dover. He twice came within three hours of being forcibly repatriated by the UK government.

A string of recent reports have highlighted widespread human rights abuse by the authorities in Cameroon. The UN last month demanded urgent action to halt extrajudicial killings, end torture in detention and lift draconian restrictions on the media.

Charles Atangana is aware that the high profile campaign has made it impossible for the UKBA to try to deport him through the anonymous, silent, unreported bureaucracy that veils hundreds of other asylum seekers.

Charles Atangana said:

"This campaign has already done more than any others like it, I think, to help expose what goes on inside the UKBA. Many of the people I met in the Colnbrook (next to Heathrow airport) and Dover removal centres have no lawyer or external supporters.
"The UKBA can pretty much do what it likes with people in that situation, and we must make sure that changes."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"Though this is just one step in the campaign to prevent Charles' deportation back into the hands of the regime that has already imprisoned and tortured him for his brave reporting of corruption at the heart of the Cameroonian regime, it is nonetheless a tremendous victory for all the trade unionists, campaign groups, politicians and individuals who have lent their support to the campaign so far. Our thanks go out to them.
"The campaign to stop his detention will now intensify – but now with Charles himself at the forefront of the campaign."

Pete Murray, NUJ President, said:

"This is incredible news and I'm sure I speak for all Charles' friends in Glasgow when I say that we can't wait to see him again.
"Winning bail for Charles gives us a 6-week window in which to bring the full might of the labour movement to bear to finally remove the threat of deportation now hanging over him."

Tags: , charles atangana, judicial review, asylum seeker, cameroon, human rights, protests, press freedom, glasgow, detention centre