By Constantinos Psillides
INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday ordered Immigration Services to process quickly the asylum application of a 17-year old Somali national, who has been detained at a Paphos police station since December.
According to immigration, the 17-year old was arrested in December when he tried to travel to Norway from Paphos airport along with two others.
Authorities discovered that the passports they held were authentic but belonged to other people. The three were arrested and on January 13 were found guilty and sentenced to five months in jail. The next day immigration issued deportation orders that were immediately suspended after the Somalis requested asylum.
On March 31, the 17-year old produced a birth certificate saying it proved he was underage. According to immigration, police and state officials have since been trying to verify the authenticity of the document.
Head of the Stop Trafficking NGO Androulla Christofidou-Henriques visited the 17-year last Friday.
According to Henriques, the boy was still wearing the same clothes he wore when he was arrested in December, was lacking personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrush and shampoo and was only being given food twice a day. Henriques noted that the boy had lost so much weight that he had to use a piece of plastic string to keep his pants up.
The boy told Henriques that he was forced to clean cells and that he was unable to sleep due to the smell.
He also claimed that he was allowed in the yard for 20 minutes every day and that the rest of the time he was kept in isolation.
In his application, the boy claimed that he severely beaten up by members of the jihadist militant group Al Shabaab that operates in Somalia. Al Shabaab, meaning “the youngsters”, is notorious for recruiting children. The 17-year old claims that when he refused to be part of the group he took a beating, which resulted in a 70 per cent loss of hearing. Henriques complained that the boy wasn’t yet taken to a doctor although she requested it.
The boy is to be interviewed by immigration officials today as part of his asylum application process.