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Human rights activist Gabriel Nwkelle denied access to media by ncadc
by Indy Media - 9th Jan 2002
Human rights activist Gabriel Nwkelle denied access to media by ncadc 10:32am
Mon Jan 7 '02 (Modified on 1:03pm Mon Jan 7 '02)


"Be careful, this is not your country"

Human rights activist Gabriel Nwkelle denied access to media On Friday
morning 28th December 2001, Gabriel Nkwelle was prevented from talking to the
media. BBC Five Live, BBC Wales and BBC London, had all prepared to interview
Gabriel but staff at Tinsley House detention centre were told not to allow
calls through to him by the Home Office press office. When he approached the
Immigration Service, the officer said that Gabriel should be careful because
"this is not your country"

According to the Home Office press officer, Michelle Wallington (0207 273
3000), all detention centres have a standing instruction that press inquiries
to individual detainees are referred to the Home Office press office and not
put through to the detainee. This was later contradicted by the Senior
Immigration Officer, Ms Foley, at Tinsley House detention centre were Gabriel
is detained (01293 434 800) who said that all phone calls from the press
would be put through. This despite the fact that all press phone calls that
morning had been blocked by staff at Tinsley House detention centre.

This attempt to gag Gabriel is in direct contravention of the Detention
Centre Rules 2001 which Parliament passed on 2nd April 2001 protecting "the
right to individual expression", and a detained person’s right "to establish
and maintain, as far as are possible, such relations with persons and
agencies outside the detention centre as he may wish, save to the extent that
such relations prejudice interests of security or safety"

Such an instruction also breaches article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights which protects the "right to freedom of expression…..without
interference from public authority"

Today his solicitors will lodge the grounds for an application for judicial
review. A decision on whether he will be able to have a full hearing is
expected within the next two weeks. (His removal from the UK was stopped by a
High Court injunction two hours before the flight left on Christmas Eve.)

Editors Notes:
In February 2000, Sir Nigel Rodley, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
wrote a report on Cameroon which sharply criticized "systematic and
widespread" torture by the police and gendarmerie.

In March 2001 Robin Cook, the then Foreign Secretary, along with Sir Nigel
Rodley –launched the "Torture Reporting Handbook" saying "it is vital that we
do all in our power to tackle the appalling practice of torture"

On 10 December 2001 the British High Commissioner in Yaounde, Cameroon, Peter
Boon Launched the "Torture Reporting Handbook" in Cameroon. He publicly
criticized the Cameroon government for failing to follow any of Sir Nigel’s
recommendations "It is almost two years since the report appeared, however ,
and so has as I am aware, the government has yet to state publicly how it is
following the special rapporteur’s advice. I urge the government to be more
open and courageous about the measures it is taking and proposes to take to
put into effect the rapporteur’s recommendations." (The Herald 12/12/01)

And yet Gabriel and other activists from Cameroon are facing return by the
Home Office.

From previous press releases:
Gabriel Nkwelle, aged 34, fought for democratic rights in his own country,
and was five times held prisoner. He asked for asylum in Britain, and was
promptly put in prison here. He publicised unacceptable treatment of his
fellow asylum detainees, and was transferred to Belmarsh, Britain's most
notorious top-security jail. Meantime, he tried to fight his own asylum case.

With the support of BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) Nkwelle won bail
after eight months imprisonment. He continued his fight for the rights of
detainees as a volunteer worker at BID.

On 10th December at the Law Society, Gabriel and his colleagues from the
charity Bail for Immigration Detainees were presented with the
Liberty/Justice Human rights award. He was photographed with Marcel Berlins
at the award ceremony.

On December 13th at York House immigration court near Heathrow, Gabriel’s
appeal was dismissed and his bail was denied. He was subsequently detained at
Harmondsworth detention centre. Gabriel is currently detained at Tinsley
House detention centre near Gatwick.

Tim Baster the co-ordinator Bail for Immigration Detainees said: "We are all
very relieved that Gabriel obtained this injunction to stop his removal. It
is now time for the Home Office to reconsider its current policy of returning
political and human rights activists to Cameroon in light of that country’s
appalling human rights record. I hope that Gabriel will be allowed to stay in
the UK.

Contact numbers:
-Tim Baster - Co-ordinator - Bail for Immigration Detainees : 0207 247 3590
(BID office)

-Media enquiries:
07833 625 033 at anytime
Bail For Immigration Detainees
28 Commercial Street, E1 6LS
Tel: 020 7247 3590
Fax: 020 7247 3550
Link to National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns: