Manly parish in last ditch immigration appeal

Nearly 400 Mass-goers from Sydney's Mary Immaculate Manly parish have signed a last-ditch appeal to the Government to prevent plans to deport a young Sierra Leone man whose sister was raped to punish him.

The Manly parish Social Justice Group says Sahr Saffa faces "credible" death threats in his home country, the Catholic Weekly reports but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, however, does not accept the threats as genuine and has rejected Sahr's appeals to stay in Australia.

Sahr was a university student in Sierra Leone when he came to Australia in November 2003 to attend a Commonwealth Youth Conference in Queensland.

His trip was sponsored and paid for by a UN agency he had worked for as an interpreter assisting in the repatriation of rebel forces after the civil war in Sierra Leone.

David Addington, of the Manly Social Justice Group, said the letters of support were being forwarded to the Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, and the group's local MP, Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott.

"With almost 400 people signing the petition, we're hoping Mr Abbott will back our approach to Mr Andrews," he said.

"Sahr Saffa's story is straightforward. Rebels who'd been given sums of money to assist their resettlement came to believe Sahr had stolen money from their funds to pay for his trip to Australia

"While he was in Australia, to 'punish' him his sister was attacked and raped by disgruntled former rebels who swore to kill him. His sister has since died.

"She was his sole relative. His parents were killed in the war and his sister was his last relative.

"He has no one to argue his case or defend him. He is very vulnerable.

"In our opinion he is at great risk of violence and probably death. With Sierra Leone having an election in late July, this will lead to an increase in lawlessness and increasing danger as the Government can be expected to turn a blind eye to the violence and killings."

Addington says that Sahr's visa expires on 28 February.

"We virtually have only a week left," he said, "we're hoping our petition will persuade the new Minister to intervene, hopefully with Mr Abbott supporting the young man."

Manly worshippers back call to halt deportation (Catholic Weekly, 25/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
St Mary's Parish, Manly

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22 Feb 2007