A bisexual Jamaican man was released from detention last week after being denied asylum earlier this summer. Orashia Edwards lost his legal battle after a British immigration court said Edwards was “dishonest” about his sexuality.
Edwards was detained by eight officials when he reported to the Home Office, the U.K.’s immigration office, for his weekly check-in July 25. His legal representative, Immigration Legal Advice Centre director Zareen Preston, told The Advocate about the detention, which lasted six weeks. Preston said they’re still not sure why Edwards, who was denied a phone call by officials, was even detained.
“They did not set removal directions and arrange a flight for him, which they could have done," Preston said in an emailed statement. “It was completely unnecessary and horrendous for Orashia, who was denied his medication for the first two days.”
On August 1, Edwards was denied bail after being detained for more than a month, as a judge said Edwards was “at risk of absconding, despite there being no evidence to believe this would occur,” Preston told The Advocate. “Orashia has never absconded and has always, without fail reported weekly.”
“After he was detained, the Home Office fax to our office a refusal of his further submissions which was substantial evidence that his case has been widely reported in the UK and in Jamaica, and that his perceived sexuality places him at risk of persecution,” Preston added.
Edwards’s case has reached the Jamaica Observer, one of Jamaica’s largest newspapers, and in July was one of the most popular stories for the publication. Preston submitted evidence showing Edwards’s bisexuality was widely reported, putting him at risk if he were to be deported.
“On the 4th August 2014 we sent further submissions to the Home Office,” Preston said. “These were two expert reports from Yvonne Sobers, a human rights activist who lives in Jamaica, and Hilare Sobers, a lawyer living in the U.S. whose expert evidence the tribunal in the U.K. have accepted many times. Both experts stated in their reports that in their opinion Orashia would be at risk of persecution in Jamaica as his case is known in Jamaica.”
Edwards was finally released on bail last Thursday after a judicial review was submitted to the tribunal and the immigration judge agreed there was no evidence that Edwards would abscond.
Preston said Edwards is considered a suicide risk, something that was dismissed by an earlier judge. The legal team is awaiting the decision on the request that judges consider Edwards’s mental state in their decision to deport him.
Filmmakers Natashia Mattocks and Spencer Burke have been following Edwards’s story. documenting his plight for asylum. In their latest video, Edwards’s mother is seen raising awareness of her son’s case at the pride parade in Leeds.