Detention of Pakistani UK student for breaching working restrictions highlights Home Office hostile policy
Muhammad Rauf Waris, a Pakistani national engaging legally in post grad studies at Stirling University, was recently arrested and held by immigration workers on accusation that he has abused his visa restrictions by apparently working for more than the permitted 20 hours a week. Despite providing evidence of his innocence by providing pay slips, he was presented before a court, refused bail and subsequently moved to an immigration removal centre in Dungavel, where he has remained in detention for the last seven weeks.
Open Letter demanding judicial review is signed by hundreds
An open letter drafted by Amnesty International, Student Action for Refugees, NUS Scotland and No Evictions Network, protesting his innocence and demanding a judicial review and Muhammad’s release, has been signed by hundreds of fellow students and human rights activists.
The letter refers to concerns about Muhammad’s health, referring to a WHO study which found that immigration detention can have severe mental health repercussions. The letter expressed disquiet about the Home Office’s handling of the case and said:
‘We are… appalled by the way his case has been handled - despite having provided the Home Office with evidence to support that he was following the conditions of his visa over a month ago, they are yet to review his case. The student continues to live in limbo. We urge the Home Office to review his case, properly consider the evidence he has provided, and make a decision on the case promptly - rather than unnecessarily prolonging the deprivation of the student’s liberty which has proven to have detrimental effects on him’
Home Office gives limited statement underlining its battle against those who are 'defrauding the public purse'
A Home Office spokesperson has resisted all attempts to provide a full explanation for Muhammad’s continued detention, accept to say that the relevant authorities were in possession of credible evidence that Muhammad Waris had breached the working conditions of his visa, which has been subsequently revoked. They added:
‘Illegal working causes untold harm to our communities, cheating honest workers out of employment, putting vulnerable people at risk, and defrauding the public purse. The government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes by removing those with no right to be in the UK’
Local MP takes up Muhammad's cause and writes to the Home Office demanding an explanation
The case of Muhammad Rauf Waris, has been championed by local Stirling SNP MP, Alyn Smith, who has written to the Home Office. His letter read:
‘For an individual to be held for this length of time is completely unacceptable… Could you please explain what has happened in this case? Why has this individual been held for so long, and what timescales are there for a decision to be made in this individual’s case?’
‘I don’t want even my worst enemy to face this kind of mental torture that I am facing at the moment'
Muhammad has since communicated details of his detriarating mental health while in detention, saying that:
‘I don’t want even my worst enemy to face this kind of mental torture that I am facing at the moment, as my health is very bad since I have been here. I can’t eat anything and whatever I am eating, I am vomiting next minute… I am mentally down and out, and I am not the only one – my family is suffering because of this unlawful detention’