An asylum seeker who campaigns for human rights is facing deportation after nine years of living and working in the UK.
Former University of London student Guy Njike was detained at an immigration reporting centre on 11 February after going to report under bail conditions. He was told his application for asylum had been rejected and he would be deported within a week.
The 41-year- old claimed asylum upon his arrival in the UK in August 1999. He claims he was tortured by police in his native Cameroon for being involved with the opposition Social Democratic Front party.
The Home Office finally contacted Njike for an initial interview in March 2004, but his claim and appeal were rejected. In May 2005 he reapplied with new supporting evidence, and heard nothing more about the application until his detention in February this year.
Whilst waiting for his asylum claim to be decided, Njike was a full time employee in Selfridges whilst also working three evenings a week for Médecins du Monde and volunteering with the Refugee Council and Age Concern. The former law student, who is fluent in English, also completed a Master’s degree in Human Rights at the University of London.
On 11 February Njike went to sign on at Becket House reporting centre during his lunch break, where he was detained on the spot and told he would be deported to Cameroon the following Saturday. He was not allowed to finish his shift at Selfridge’s food hall or collect personal items from home, and was then transferred to Southwark police station before being moved to Oakington Detention Centre.
Friends and colleagues have organised a campaign to support Njike, including a petition to the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, which has gathered over 1,400 signatures including that of Lord Joffe, Nelson Mandela’s former lawyer. Kirrily Pells, a PhD student at the University of London said, ‘I have known Guy for five years. He is a great friend and an integral member of the community. It is ridiculous that this country is deporting the type of people we need. We will do everything we can to keep him here with us.’