PRESS RELEASE: 19th June 2023: CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE ABANDON ATTEMPT TO CRIMINALISE HUNGER STRIKING REFUGEE
“Seeking asylum is not a crime. Neither is exposing human rights abuses nor hunger striking in protest against them.” - Shay Babagar
“It is wrong that they were arrested and faced prosecution for arguing for their right to live without fear.” - Nicky Hall, Solicitor
The Crown Prosecution Service have dropped the case against Shay Babagar, the refugee who went on hunger strike last November to highlight allegations about human rights abuses taking place in Serco run hotels. In May, alongside his wife, Shay pleaded not guilty when the couple appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court to face allegations that they refused to leave Stepping Hill Hospital when asked to, an offence for which they were arrested with a trial date set for December this year. Speaking from a house in Manchester, where they are now living with their child pending the outcome of their asylum application, Shay says:
“Seeking asylum is not a crime. Neither is exposing human rights abuses nor hunger striking in protest against them. I hope that all the other people in the hotels take strength from this climbdown by the Criminal Justice system. If we come together, publicise the truth and organise collectively with people inside and allies outside of the asylum system, we can not only resist the current persecution that we are experiencing as people seeking asylum, we can expose it and ultimately stop it. Many issues relating to our treatment at the hands of Greater Manchester Police, Serco staff and hospital managers remain outstanding and we will never give up, not until the truth comes out and we are completely vindicated in our action.”
The family are determined to clear their name and to continue their work with RAPAR and others to expose the truth about the conditions in hotels and end the ‘Hostile Environment’. They are now exploring the best next steps for bringing the right organisations to account for themselves, including Greater Manchester Police who, so far, have not investigated the assault allegations made by the family.
Last November, while they were still hospitalised, the Police said it was not in the public interest to investigate the assault allegations. However, they appear to have changed their mind in April this year when they told Manchester Evening News (MEN): “Greater Manchester Police have confirmed an investigation into a suspected assault on Shay at the hotel where they lived is ongoing, but no arrests have been made.” However, a month later, GMP had confirmed to MEN that the case was closed.
The family’s criminal defence lawyer, Nicky Hall of Robert Lizar Solicitors observes: “Shay and Aisha had required hospital treatment. They did not want to return to those hotel premises where they had been abused. It is wrong that they were arrested and faced prosecution for arguing for their right to live without fear.”
Now Shay’s Family Campaign are planning a public meeting about the human rights violations taking place in hotels on Thursday 7th September 6.30 pm at Friends Meeting House in Manchester.
For more information please contact:
Rhetta Moran 07776264646
Kath Grant 07865713474