From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jun 16 2009 - 16:22:27 EDT
Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration
A former Miss Ethiopia is to receive damages after being unlawfully
detained by immigration authorities.
Published: 7:20PM BST 16 Jun 2009
Jerusalem Mehari, was unlawfully held at an immigration detention centre
for several weeks in 2008 pending removal to Eritrea after being refused
asylum, the High Court in London heard.
The former beauty queen will receive a pay-out even though she still
stands accused of manipulating the asylum system.
Removal directions were declared unlawful by an immigration judge
because Miss Mehari was a Jehovah's Witness and there was a risk of her
suffering persecution in Eritrea.
Judge Kenneth Parker QC said both sides would be given two months to
agree how much she should receive in damages. The Home Office accepted
Miss Mehari, 29, who first came to Britain as a student studying fashion
design, and has competed in beauty pageants all over the world, is now
fighting Home Office proposals to remove her to Ethiopia after being
accused of abusing the system.
Sarabjit Singh, appearing for the Home Office, explained that Miss
Mehari entered Britain in September 2004 using her Ethiopian passport,
which was not due to expire until 2011.
But she had renounced her Ethiopian citizenship in 2007, a few days
before her UK student visa expired, and claimed Eritrean nationality.
Mr Singh said she then claimed asylum in Britain on the basis that she
had a well-founded fear of persecution in Eritrea because of her
"The only reason for seeking and maintaining Eritrean nationality is to
claim the right to remain in the UK," he said.
"What the claimant is trying to do is nothing short of an abuse of the
He said there was no reason to believe Miss Mehari would not be
readmitted to Ethiopia.
Shivani Jegarajah, appearing for Miss Mehari, said she was a refugee and
the immigration authorities had no power to remove her from Britain.
Her Ethiopian citizenship had been obtained fraudulently through her
paternal grandfather, and there was no reason to believe she would
allowed back, she said.
Judge Parker adjourned the hearing, saying at present the Home Office
had issued no actual directions to remove her to Ethiopia.
He said once they had been issued, and reasons had been given, the
hearing could be resumed, if it was necessary.