NUJ Urging Members to Help Prevent Colleague from Being Deported to Cameroon

Members of the National Union of Journalists are being urged to write to their MSP, MP and MEP to help prevent a fellow member from being deported to Cameroon.

Says the NUJ's Scottish Office, Glasgow-based Charles Atangana is “facing a very grave situation and could be deported to Cameroon in a matter of days unless we take action immediately to help him”.

With the union's help, Atangana – who is seeking asylum – was last month saved from being deported, following a hearing in the High Court.

But, writes the union's Glasgow-based president, Pete Murray: “Last month, the Home Office accepted a last-minute order to prevent Charles' forcible repatriation to Cameroon. But now, he has been served with a further deportation order, which gives the UK Borders Agency authority to deport him on August 2. Charles is currently detained at the Colnbrook Home Office detention centre outside London.

“The National Union of Journalists is preparing a legal challenge to this order – we believe it is based on an incomplete appeals procedure and that it has not taken account of substantial changes in circumstances in Cameroon, nor has it treated with any compassion Charles' immense contribution to the NUJ network and other communities in Glasgow. To put it it simply: Charles belongs to Glasgow. We want him back home.”

Adds Murray: “Following a visit to the country in May this year, the Federation of African Journalists described Cameroon as 'one of the worst jailers of journalists in Africa'. A number of prominent journalists are currently held in shocking conditions in prisons in the country. They were detained in the capital, Yaounde, following an investigation into allegations of corruption at the state-owned oil company. Tragically, one of them, Bibi Ngota, the editor of the bi-monthly Cameroun Express died in custody last April.

“Charles' family has prominent historical links with the opposition movement in Cameroon and we fear he will be subjected to violence and likely detention if he is forced to return. So we are asking all NUJ members, campaign groups and supporters to contact their local MP, MSP and Members of the European Parliament to demand they intervene urgently and call on the Home Secretary not to enforce the removal order until there is a full Judicial Review of Charles Atangana's case.”

An example letter reads as follows:

“YOUR ADDRESS

 DATE

 Dear (MP/MSP/MEP)

CHARLES ATANGANA – CAMEROON NATIONAL.

HOME OFFICE REF: A1227296

I am writing to you to ask you to intervene to help stop the deportation of a member of the journalists' union and Glasgow-based asylum seeker, Charles Atangana.

Charles is a well respected journalist on economic and current affairs. He has lived in the UK since 2004, having been forced to flee Cameroon following harassment, detention by the regime and continuing threats against members of his family who have to remain in Cameroon. During his time in the UK, Charles has played a significant role in the local community both as a volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau in Parkhead but also as an active member of the National Union of Journalists and an activist with the Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation which promotes integration between local people, asylum seekers, refugees and other communities in the area.

Last month, the Home Office accepted a last-minute order to prevent Charles' forcible repatriation to Cameroon. But now, he has been served with a further deportation order, which gives the government authority to deport him on 2nd August.

The National Union of Journalists is preparing a legal challenge to this order – we believe it is based on an incomplete review procedure and that it has not taken account of substantial changes in circumstances in Cameroon, nor has it treated with any compassion Charles immense contribution to the NUJ network and other communities in Glasgow.

You should know that following a visit to the country in May this year, the Federation of African Journalists described Cameroon as “one of the worst jailers of journalists in Africa”. A number of prominent journalists are currently held in shocking conditions in prisons in the country. They were detained in the capital, Yaounde, following an investigation into allegations of corruption at the state-owned oil company. Tragically, one of them, Bibi Ngota, the editor of the bi-monthly Cameroun Express died in custody last April.

Charles' family has prominent historical links with the opposition movement in Cameroon and we fear he will be subjected to violence and likely detention if he is forced to return.

I appeal to you to intervene urgently and call on the Home Secretary not to enforce the removal order until there is a full Judicial Review of Charles Atangana's case.

Yours sincerely”

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