Cayman Islands Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said last week that three men from Afghanistan who came here illegally seven years ago will not have their right to appeal for refugee status barred by the government.
In an interview with the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Manderson confirmed that he would be sending refusal letters to the three men regarding their November 2004 applications for political asylum. This formal refusal would allow the three to contest their case before the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.
One of the three Afghan men, Nek Nazary, filed a complaint with the Office of the Complaints Commissioner last week claiming the lack of response from government on the appeal for three years had effectively hamstrung the men’s efforts to argue their case.
Mr. Manderson said he believed the refusal letters had been sent to the Afghan men some time ago, but he said those refusals were apparently lost at some point in the process.
‘I don’t think we have taken anything away from them at all,’ Mr. Manderson said.
Mr. Nazary said he had heard through the press that appeals for asylum had been turned down, but said he had never received formal notification of that.
‘They obviously have concluded in their minds, but they haven’t given us anything,’ he said.
Last week’s complaint and the subsequent comments from Mr. Manderson are just the latest twist in a saga that began with the arrival of three Afghan teenagers in Cayman back in 2000.
The three men first applied to for refugee status in 2001, after they were released from the custody of Caymanian authorities for a second time. The Afghans had been jailed twice without charges being filed against them.
The first application for asylum was rejected by the then-chief immigration officer.
The Immigration Appeals Tribunal, upon reviewing that application in 2003, appeared to side with the Afghans and gave them the right to appeal. There were differing legal opinions on whether the board had actually overturned the chief immigration officer’s decision.
The government appealed the immigration tribunal’s ruling to the Grand Court, but that appeal was eventually abandoned.
One of the Afghan men then appealed for asylum again in December 2003, followed by the others in January 2004. Those applications were also rejected.
A proposal to return the men to their home country later in 2004 failed after it was determined there was no way to get the three back to Afghanistan safely.
According to Mr. Nazary, the three were then invited by the Cayman Islands government to reapply asylum, which he said they did in November 2004.
Last week, he said they were still awaiting a response on that appeal.