Home » Alkali attack suspect Abdul-Shokoor Ezedi was not eligible for asylum

Alkali attack suspect Abdul-Shokoor Ezedi was not eligible for asylum

A man suspected of an alkali attack in south London should not have been granted asylum, according to Home Office guidelines.

Afghan refugee Abdul-Shokoor Ezedi’s 2018 sexual assault conviction in Newcastle should have disqualified him from asylum.

But his claim was approved after being rejected twice, despite him being placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

Police are hunting for Ezedi after a corrosive substance attack.

It left a mother and her two girls in hospital.

The 31-year-old woman and her youngest daughter, three, suffered potentially “life-changing” injuries in the attack near Clapham Common on Wednesday evening. Ten other people were also injured, including five police officers who attended.

Police have warned people not to approach Ezedi, who fled the scene, and to instead call 999.

The 35-year-old arrived in the UK from Afghanistan by lorry in 2016, and had his initial asylum claim rejected later that year.

When he tried again, he said he had converted to Christianity, which would have put him at risk if he had returned to Afghanistan, but his claim was rejected for a second time.

Ezedi then appealed against this decision and a tribunal in Newcastle overturned it in 2020, having heard from a church witness who said he believed that Ezedi had converted to Christianity.

By the time his claim was approved in 2020, Ezedi had been convicted of sexual assault and exposure, receiving a 45-week suspended prison sentence. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years from January 2018.

Immigration rules state that “permission to stay must be refused where the applicant … has committed a criminal offence which caused serious harm”.

Guidance makes it clear that where a person has been convicted of a sexual offence, they will normally be considered to have committed an offence that has caused serious harm.

The Home Office rules state that “if a person is on the Sex Offenders Register then their application will be refused on the grounds of serious harm”.

Asylum case workers have no discretion in such cases.

Enforced returns to Afghanistan – even in cases where asylum is not granted – are currently suspended due to instability following the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick said Ezedi’s asylum was likely granted by a judge, rather than Home Office officials.

Home Secretary James Cleverly has asked for details on the case, including information on how Ezedi came to be granted asylum, by the end of Friday.

This case is being pointed out by some in the Home Office as an example of the frustration they have with the asylum tribunal system, that people are granted asylum despite having convictions in the UK.

However, those who work with asylum seekers point out you can still be at risk in your home country – and therefore a genuine refugee – even if you have a conviction in the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson has insisted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak does have confidence in the asylum system.

Downing Street would not comment on whether he thought priests were naïve in accepting asylum seekers claims of religious conversion.

He said: “More broadly, clearly, the UK has got a proud history of welcoming people who are genuinely fleeing religious persecution.

“Clearly, there are systems and procedures in place to ensure that caseworkers are able to establish the credibility of these claims around religious belief so that protection is only granted to those who are genuinely in need as is right.”

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