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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 15 October 2018

Afghan killed after British deportation bought weapons out of Taliban fear

Zainadin Fazlie was shot dead by militants in Maidan Wardak province

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni highway, in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan. Reuters
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni highway, in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan. Reuters

An Afghan man who sought refuge from the Taliban in Britain before being deported and shot dead in his hometown was so concerned about his safety that he had purchased weapons to protect himself from assassination, the family’s lawyer has told The National.

Zainadin Fazlie had lived in London with his wife and four British-born children – aged between three and 16 years old – from 2000 until he was deported in 2016. He fled to Britain after the Taliban took over his hometown in the central Afghan province of Maidan Wardak.

While the 47-year-old was deported to Kabul, the Afghan capital, he subsequently returned to his hometown after failing to find an income. It was there that he feared repercussions from the Taliban if they found out that he had returned from Britain. He turned to arms to protect himself. But his wife discovered last week via a Facebook post that he had been shot dead by Taliban fighters.

“It’s a difficult time for the family, the Home Office deported him without reconsideration and the unfortunate incident happened to him. The appeal hearing for bringing him back was set on 28 September and we had good reasons to believe we would win it,” Nasir Ata, family lawyer of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, told The National.

“I repeatedly spoke to him, he was in difficult condition, he said for the safety he is using weapons against Taliban for self defence,” he continued.

In his 16 years in Britain, he was accused of committing minor offences and British authorities deported him back to Afghanistan despite the threats against his life.

“The moment I heard the shocking news of my husband’s death halted my life,” his 34-year-old wife Samira said. “After seeing the picture of dead body I stuck in bed and could not get away from this situation for three days.”

Mr Fazlie was granted indefinite leave to stay in the Britain as the province of his hometown had remained one of the most violent battlegrounds between Nato forces and the Taliban in the 17-year war.

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The British authorities are under pressure for their policy of sending back Afghan asylum seekers after a UN report that indicated the number of civilians casualties in the war-torn country exceeded 10,000 for the fourth year running in 2017.

“This is a cautionary tale of how problematic immigration and deportation policies in the West can result in vulnerable people being sent back to the countries they fled from, and with tragic consequences,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington.

According to a report from Amnesty International, 785 Afghans were returned from the UK back to Afghanistan in 2016. Between 2007 and 2015, 2,018 Afghans who were seeking refuge in Britain as unaccompanied child asylum seekers were deported and sent back to Afghanistan.

Mr Fazlie is the first ever reported casualty of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s “deport first, appeal later” policy proposed in the 2014 Immigration Act.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty’s Refugee and Migrants Rights Programme Director, called the Afghan deportee’s case “an awful tragedy, yet a readily foreseeable one”.

Through this policy, the applicant can return to Britain after deportation if they win their appeal, but it won’t happen in the case of Zainadin.

Immigration experts say the Home Office should immediately suspend the premature deportations to dangerous and high-risk countries and bring back the Afghans whose appeals are still pending.

“Mr Fazlie is a casualty of Theresa May’s ‘deport first, appeal later’ policy where people are removed before their appeal takes place. More than half of people now win their appeal and those who do are allowed back,” Colin Yeo, a renowned British Immigration and asylum barrister told The National.

“It sounds like Mr Fazlie had a good chance of winning but that opportunity is tragically lost and his family will somehow have to manage without him now,” he continued.

The Home Office UK did not comment on the request of The National.