Wigan Council is to hold an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Wednesday 7 December 2005 in order to propose two motions in support of asylum-seeking families that have lived in Wigan.
The plight of the Hata family has been well documented in the media. Sara Hata fled to the UK in 2002, following a five year imprisonment in a Ugandan jail. Sara claims that during this period in prison she was tortured and raped. A report by a British psychiatrist substantiates these claims by suggesting that Sara is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her experience in Ugandan detention. Dr Frank Arnold, Sara’s English doctor, has confirmed that he has seen the ‘scars of torture’ on his patient. Yet despite this medical evidence, no medical reports were used in her asylum case and the entire family were deported to Uganda on Sunday 16 October.
Sara’s five children – Dennis, 15, Hope, 14, Maureen, 13, Peace, 11 and Moris, 9 – had each integrated well into the local community, highlighted by the fact that last Saturday, over 100 school children took part in a rally to demand that their classmates be returned to Wigan. Ruth Fisher, elected Chair of Governors at St Cuthbert’s Junior School, spoke of ‘the distress and confusion that staff and children are experiencing over this family’s removal’. ‘The family have taken part in many local activities and are a loving, caring family who do not hesitate to help others.’ Indeed, Peace was recently voted as one of the school’s four House Captains by pupils and staff. Support for the family has been far-reaching, encompassing organisations and individuals as diverse as St Cuthbert’s Church and Wigan Rugby League Club (Moris plays for a local rugby team) and the reciprocal nature of the relationship between family and community has been emphasised.
Since being deported, the family have reportedly been attacked by a mob and have been caught up in a riot, with two family members sustaining physical injuries. The mental state of the family, who are living in constant fear, is deteriorating and Sara’s state of mind and physical well-being is of particular concern.
The two motions being proposed by Councillor Peter Franzen of the Community Action Party and Leader of Wigan Council Opposition are:
The Council through its many actions has demonstrated its compassion for those who have suffered persecution or oppression. Sara Hata and her family benefited from this as did the community from their presence. True to these ideals the Council instructs its Chief Executive to write to the Home Secretary asking that the plight of the family be urgently reviewed to reflect its gravity. In doing so it would ask that the family be afforded every degree of humanitarian help including a possible return to Wigan.
This Council instructs its Chief Executive to write on behalf of Wigan Council to the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) seeking the following assurances: That (NASS) will not house individuals and families in the Borough of Wigan in substandard housing. That landlords who provide substandard housing or who fail to implement repairs when instructed to do so by Wigan Council be removed from NASS’s list of approved housing providers and not awarded any further contracts.