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James Fallah-Williams ends hunger strike – carries on fight

19 August 2011

James Fallah-Williams, a journalist and human rights activist who fled Sierra Leone in 1995 at the height of the civil war, has ended his hunger strike. James has lived in the UK for over a decade with legal rights to study and work.

However, due to the actions of the UK Border Agency, James has been trapped in an immigration nightmare for the last four years. The NUJ has been helping James with on-going legal support and representation and is continuing to campaign for him to stay in the UK.

Roy Mincoff, NUJ legal officer said:

"The NUJ is pleased and relieved that James' hunger strike has been called off. We look forward to a full and fair review into his case by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The NUJ continues to call on the government to urgently intervene in the case and allow James to remain in the UK. We are pleased that James can now recover from the hunger strike and carry on the fight to stay here."

James Fallah-Williams issued the following statement on Friday 19 August 2011:

"I began my hunger strike on August the 1st because the Home Office, through their UK Border Agency, failed to respond to direct questions about my immigration case from my MP Andy Burnham and also failed to respond to legal queries put forward by my legal representatives who are sponsored by the National Union of Journalists.

"As you all know, I have lived in this country for 13 years and I have contributed enormously during this period to the development of the society and community wherever I have lived.

"I asked for a review of my immigration case. It was specifically because of the UKBA's abject failure to engage in any legal means to resolve the matter that I was compelled to begin my hunger strike.

"I am now informing you that, with effect from this morning, my hunger strike is over. This is because the UK Border Agency have invited a submission from me which was received at this very building, by the UKBA, at 0830 a week ago today i.e Friday 12th August. The UKBA have confirmed receipt of this submission and they are currently considering it. Moreover, the communication line is now open between my legal representative and the UKBA and due respect is being extended to my MP Andy Burnham in the sense that, as my elected representative, he has rights that he can exercise in relation to his constituents and those rights should be observed at all times in a society that claims to be democratic.

"I want to remind you again that the decision to first begin and then maintain this hunger strike for 19 days was taken by myself entirely, without any pressure whatsoever from any organisation or individual. Similarly then, my decision to end my hunger strike is made by my own free will and because I am satisfied that the demands that I set out the outset have been met.

"The submission of these documents is not the end of my story and I intend to continue my campaign until due consideration is given – and seen to be given - to my rights to private life and my rights to personal safety in the UK.

"I believe in democracy, just laws and human rights for all. As a journalist and human rights activist I believe in standing up for the truth and I will continue to do so wherever I am.

"I thank everyone for your support and I especially thank my legal representative Bindmans, the National Union of Journalists, RAPAR, Harpurhey Community Church, Leeds asylum seekers support network, the Leigh Journal, the Bolton News, the BBC, Manchester MULE, Salford STAR and members of the International Press as far and wide as Paris, India and even my home country Sierra Leone.

"It is our shared responsibility to stand up for justice. Let us continue the fight until justice is done. Many thanks."

James Fallah Williams

Further information about the campaign can be found on the RAPAR website.

Tags: , asylum seeker, sierra leone, UKBA, james fallah-williams