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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Letter to Harriet Harman.

Following my previous post, this is the email I sent to Harriet Harman.


Subject: ASC/502B67

Ms Kyomugisha's Home Office reference ASC/502B67

Dear Ms Harman,

I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about the situation
of Ms Doreen Kyomugisha, which I have heard about from the Black
Women's Rape Action Project.

Doreen Kyomugisha is 17 years old (as confirmed by health
professionals) and was born in Rwanda. She lost her parents at a young
age. She was later raped many times, and eventually trafficked to

However, instead of helping this young woman who desperately needs
protection and support, police have charged her with entering the UK
as a refugee using "deception" and "failure to produce an immigration
document or passport which is in force and satisfactorily establishes
[your] identity, nationality or citizenship." She was refused bail
and imprisoned.

She is now in Bronzefield Women's Prison and is deeply traumatised.
She cannot eat and now weighs a worrying 7.1 stone.

Ms Harman, you yourself recently stated that there would be a
Europe-wide crackdown on trafficking, improvements to protection, and
you clarified that "it is the trafficked people who are the victims."

I understand that there will be a bail application tomorrow, and I
would offer absolute support for bail to be awarded.

At the very least she must be released so that she can work closely
with Legal Action for Women and her legal team to clear her name
against these malicious charges, brought on the basis of "evidence"
which has not been scrutinised or verified.

I understand that Home Office policy indicates that charges of failing
to produce valid documents when entering the country should not be
used against a minor. On this basis alone a proper assessment of her
age should have been done, taking into consideration the social
services assessment and the prosecution should not have been brought.

This shocking treatment of a vulnerable child makes a travesty of any
pronouncements that the authorities are sensitive to rape survivors
and that young people claiming asylum or victims of trafficking
receive a caring response.

I am writing to you to ask you to do all you can you ensure that the
unfair and inappropriate charges against Ms Kyomugisha are dropped,
and that she is offered help and support, not further trauma and

Yours sincerely,