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Welsh Bishops in Plea for Cancer Sufferer: CEN 1.25.08 p 6 January 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration.


The Bishops of the Church in Wales have asked the Border and Immigration Agency to reconsider its deportation of a Ghanaian woman being treated for cancer in Cardiff.

Last week the government put Ama Sumani, a 39 year old women being treated for malignant myeloma at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, on a plane for Accra after she overstayed her visa.

Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said: “You cannot follow the letter of the law when it comes to immigration because we are dealing with individual human beings, not commodities.

“There has to be room for flexibility of rules, a consideration of a person’s dignity, self-respect and basic human rights. We need to exercise compassion and understanding and act appropriately for each case,” he said on Jan 17.

Ms Sumani entered the UK on a student visa in 2004. However upon arrival in Britain she took up employment and neglected to inform the authorities of her changed status, breaking the terms of her visa.

Immigration chief Lin Homer (pictured) told the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee on Jan 15 that hundreds of cases like Ms Sumani’s were dealt with each year. “I think it is very difficult to see the circumstances in which this case stands out from the very many difficult cases we consider,” Ms Homer said. “These are incredibly difficult cases. There are many hundreds each year.”

However the medical journal The Lancet denounced the government decision, saying the forceable return to Ghana of the cancer patient, who could not receive the same degree of care in her home country, was an “”atrocious barbarism”.

Dr. Morgan argued that it is “never appropriate for a civilised, wealthy society to turn, literally, a sick woman out of her bed and put her on a plane to a very worrying future. What sort of moral example does that send to the rest of the world?”

However British and EU courts have held that deportation can only be stopped in “very rare and extreme cases” under the article of the human rights convention which bars inhuman or degrading treatment, Ms. Homer said.

“The standard of medical care in this country and the access to it is sufficiently higher than in so many countries, not just Third World or developing countries,” she told Parliament. “If we vary from that point there are many, many tens of thousands who would” seek to come to Britain.

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