Darfuri torture victim spared from deportation


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A Darfuri torture victim has been granted asylum in Britain after being given a last-minute reprieve from deportation to Sudan, following a campaign by The Independent highlighting the violent persecution of the regime.

Abeer Awooda, 26, a journalist who fled to Britain in July 2010, was shocked when she was taken into custody at Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire in February this year. She was subsequently told that a flight taking her back to Sudan had been booked for 3pm on Valentines Day.

Her supporters claimed at the time that the decision was part of a "bureaucratic blunder" by the Home Office. Ms Awooda had been victimised by Khartoum's security forces for wearing trousers and arrested and tortured for speaking out against the regime of Omar al-Bashir. She came to the UK when he was re-elected as President, despite his being charged with crimes against humanity bythe UN.

Under such conditions, she should have been exempt from deportation. On the morning of the flight, The Independent ran a piece highlighting her plight. It paved the way for a judicial review of the case which led to the flight being delayed for three days.

During that time supporters mounted a new legal case under the interim Rule 39, which states that the court can request the government concerned to suspend a deportation order. Just two hours before her flight was due to leave for Khartoum, Ms Awooda was waiting at Heathrow when an application to the European Court of Human Rights was accepted and the Home Office was prevented from removing her to Sudan.

Last night a spokesman for Waging Peace, which campaigns against genocide and human rights violations and has been assisting in the campaign, said in a statement: "The story you wrote – and The Independent's coverage of the campaign in general over the last three years – were critical factors in pressuring the government and the courts, and Waging Peace and Abeer herself are really grateful for your help on this issue."