'Desperate' migrant's epic trek to UK with 7 year stopover in Norway where he was convicted of rape
EXCLUSIVE: A "DESPERATE" migrant who spent nine years getting to the UK, including a seven-year stopover in Norway where he was convicted of raping a vulnerable woman, is facing extradition.
Eritrean Asmerom Yemane claimed asylum in the UK after his lengthy journey via at least five safe European countries, which was detailed in a court judgement.
District Judge John Zani said there was nothing to prevent his extradition to Norway.
Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that in around 2011 after leaving his home country he spent a year in Libya before taking a boat to Sicily.
He got into Italy where he spent a year working on a farm. The 34-year-old then paid smugglers 500 to 600 euros to get him to Belgium where he spent a further year trying to get to the UK several times unsuccessfully. In 2014 he decided to move to Sweden, but only made it to Norway, where he applied for asylum under the false name Issac Abraham and was given residency and stayed for more than six years. However, in Norway he was charged with the summer 2018 rape of a vulnerable woman with Downs' Syndrome and convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in December 2019. Yemane was bailed while he appealed the conviction and fled to Amsterdam in February 2020 before it concluded with the conviction upheld three months later. He later travelled to Ireland and made it to the UK in August 2020, where he tried to claim asylum under his real name. It was not until November 2021 that he was arrested on an international arrest warrant and identified as the convicted rapist via fingerprints. Yemane contested extradition and told the hearing he had a brother running a garage business in the UK and had not wanted to remain in Italy or Belgium as he did not "believe they respected human rights." Judge Zani passed the case to Home Secretary Priti Patel with a final decision made to extradite him on Wednesday, July 27, but it is understood he is appealing.
It comes as the Home Office has been accused of failing to ask thousands of migrants, such as Yemane, basic questions about why they risk their lives crossing the Channel in small boats and in the backs of lorries to come here from already safe European countries. The Home Affairs Select Committee has called on the government to quiz all new arrivals to build up a database on why the UK is so attractive to them. It comes as both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss made illegal immigration a key part of their Tory leadership campaigns. In a report published this month, the select committee said: "We have no reliable data on why migrants who have reached safe havens in European nation states are sufficiently desperate to reach the UK that they will risk their lives to cross the Channel in flimsy, unseaworthy dinghies and makeshift craft. "It is surprising that the Home Office does not routinely collect information on why asylum seekers and other migrants seek to journey to the UK. We recommend that it begin to do so, to form a sound evidence basis for future policy-making."
MPs on the committee speculated during their inquiry that the UK may be a draw due to language, presence of relatives and established communities, slick marketing by people smugglers and a widespread black market labour force. Delays and a lack of accommodation and other basic rights, while claims were being processed in other countries, were other possible lures, the committee found. They said the data should be readily available as it has been more than 20 years since the Home Office did any research into the reasons in 2002. Back then the main draws identified included that they were able to speak English, had relatives here, there were colonial links between their country and the UK, and it was seen as a safe, tolerant and democratic society. Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, (above) said it was clear the Home office should be interviewing migrants like Yemane about why they chose to come. He said: "This is jaw-dropping. My question to the Home Office would be, why in heaven’s name is the most obvious question not being asked? It really is the height of folly. "It is difficult not to conclude that we are seen as a soft touch." A Home Office spokesman added: "There is no one silver bullet to tackle the global migration crisis the world is facing but we must do everything we can to fix the broken asylum system in the UK.
"People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, those coming by small boats to the UK have left a safe country with a similar asylum system to our own.
"Our New Plan for Immigration will bring in the biggest package of reforms in decades, allowing us to support those in genuine need while preventing illegal and dangerous journeys into the UK and breaking the business model of vile people smugglers.
“Through our world-leading Migration Partnership, migrants who make these unnecessary journeys to the UK may be relocated to Rwanda to have their claims considered and rebuild their lives."