By Constantinos Psillides
OMBUDSWOMAN Eliza Savvidou will be launching a probe into the case of Congo Mahamoudou, a Burkina Faso national, who was deported yesterday after he was denied due process, according to his lawyer Michalis Paraskeva.
The decision to launch a probe was reached after Mahamoudou’s lawyer accused the Immigration Service of withholding documents that he needed to appeal the deportation order. He claims that his client was deported without having the chance to take his case to court.
Paraskeva claims that he made repeated attempts to secure the order by which his client was detained and deported but Immigration refused to comply.
According to the procedure, detaining an immigrant is the final step and should be reserved strictly for deportations. Before seeing the inside of a prison cell, an immigrant has the right to challenge the order before court.
Asked about the case, the Ombudswoman was adamant: “This is unheard of. Government services cannot just refuse to provide a lawyer with proper documentation and suspend due process. Even if they have a valid case against an immigrant, they should give him the right to appeal.
“My office will look into the case and if the accusations are true we will submit a report”, said Savvidou, although she wasn’t very optimistic on the report’s effectiveness.
She confirmed that the deportation order can be rescinded, if there was a problem with the procedure followed.
“His name will be taken off the stop-list and he will be allowed to fly back to the island,” Savvidou said.
Mahamoudou’s case wasn’t unknown to the Ombudswoman’s office. A delegation visited the Menoyia detention centre on January 15, in the wake of a recent suicide wave at the central prisons. Savvidou heard about the case and asked the Interior Ministry for information. She never received it.
Mahamoudou is married to Tatiana Chripkova, a Slovak national, but their marriage was deemed one of convenience by the Immigration Services and he was taken to the Menoyia detention centre on December 17, from where he was deported.
“This is a clear violation of human rights. A complete disregard for the rule of law. They have arrested a person based on their own assumptions, imprisoned him, deported him and all without giving him the chance to appear in court,” the lawyer said.
Mahamoudou was married to Chripkova since 2011 and he was granted a residency permit that expired. Chripkova has been working in Cyprus for the past seven years and had recently found employment in the UK, where she said she was planning to move with her husband. While she was away, Immigration Services declared that their marriage was one of convenience and Mahamoudou was arrested.
Chripkova returned to Cyprus once she was notified of her husband’s arrest and filed a petition for him to be released but received no answer.
She blasted the authorities saying that her husband missed his appointment at the British High Commission in Nicosia for an interview regarding his petition to enter the UK and be reunited with his wife.
Chripkova staged a hunger strike outside Menoyia asking that her husband be released so they could leave Cyprus.
Once she was informed on her husband’s deportation, Chripkova contacted the Slovak embassy and filed an official complaint against the state and the Immigration Services.
Immigrant rights advocate KISA told the Cyprus Mail that there was no clear process for deciding what constitutes a marriage of convenience. “They declare marriages to be false, without sufficient evidence and deport people merely on suspicion,” said KISA.
The Cyprus Mail has made repeated attempts to secure a comment or response from Immigration Services officials but with no success.