Deported Lancaster man to be returned to UK after appeal success

Solomon Yitbarek.
Solomon Yitbarek.

A Lancaster man who had been deported to Ethiopia is to be returned to the UK after a court heard the Home Office acted illegally.

Solomon Yitbarek was arrested and put on a plane back to his home country last month, despite trying to claim asylum in the UK on safety grounds.

But his solicitors successfully claimed the Home Office had illegally deported Solomon, and the Home Office has now been given 14 days to bring him back to England.

Gisela Renolds, the manager of the Global Link charity where Solomon had been volunteering, said: “This is fantastic news.”

Latta & Co solicitors charged the Home Office with an ‘illegal deportation’, saying they did not correctly follow their own procedures.

The solicitors also said they had not been told about the removal process.

A court ruled last Wednesday that the procedure was illegal and has ordered the Home Office to bring Solomon back within 14 days.

It is not yet known what will happen to Solomon on his return to the UK, which is expected to be by the end of June.

Solomon had been living in Lancaster since 2016, having arrived in the UK legally on a spouse visa from Ethiopia in 2013.

However, his subsequent separation from his partner prompted him to consider returning to Ethiopia in 2016.

He was warned against doing so by his aunt in Ethiopia, who said an arrest warrant had been issued for him for his peaceful democracy activities, and that his brother had been arrested and imprisoned for his political opposition activities.

Solomon had since applied for asylum in the UK, but the Home Office dismissed his case.

He was arrested last month and taken to a detention centre in Gatwick.

Despite his lawyer claiming the arrest was unlawful and asking for a judicial review, Solomon was handcuffed and put on a flight to Addis Abbaba from Heathrow.

It was feared Solomon would then be arrested due to his previous political opposition. Since late 2015, security forces in Ethiopia have killed more than 1,000 people and detained tens of thousands during widespread protests against government policies.

Gisela said: “The authorities regularly use arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, activists, and perceived opposition party members, including people like Solomon.

“Solomon is an activist in a pro-democracy opposition group called Patriotic Ginbot 7, who have been labelled a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.

“Solomon’s family has a history of political activism. His father was tortured so badly by the Ethiopian regime 18 years ago that he died almost immediately on release.

“His mother then fled to Sudan as a refugee, with her young son Solomon.

“Solomon’s brother, who had remained in Ethiopia, was also arrested in 2016, was sent to prison for his opposition activities, and hasn’t been seen or heard of since.”

Solomon was moved to Lancaster by the Home Office following the breakdown of his marriage.

Gisela said in March the Home Office attempted to deport him, but his lawyer put in a new claim for asylum.

This was rejected but his lawyer claimed the Home Office failed to take new evidence into account and a judicial review was applied for.

However, Gisela said the Home Office acted swiftly to deport Solomon when his lawyer was not available.