A Mexican woman who claimed she was tortured by a drug cartel boss lost her quest for political asylum in Cayman this week.
Justice Paul Worsley dismissed her and her family’s application for judicial review of a 2013 decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, but raised concerns about a letter sent to the Cayman Islands governor from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees relating to the family’s situation.
The appeals tribunal had upheld a decision by the Chief Immigration Officer, who had turned down the family’s application in 2012.
The applicants for asylum were a woman, her mother and her juvenile sibling. They came to Cayman via Cuba in July 2011.
Justice Worsley concluded that any mistake by the chief immigration officer at the time, Linda Evans, had been corrected by the chairman of the tribunal reviewing her decision.
The judge said he accepted the woman’s account of being in a relationship “not of her making” with a drug lord who tortured her. One of the grounds of appeal submitted by attorney Dennis Brady was that the chief immigration officer’s interview with the asylum seekers had been conducted in English rather than their native language. The judge noted that the woman had studied English to a high degree and the drug lord has wanted to use her language skills to assist him in the sale of drugs.
The asylum seekers’ principal complaint was that the drug dealer was related to a police officer in Mexico and it was suggested that they therefore did not receive the protection of the state. On that basis, they said, they should have been afforded refugee status.
However, the judge concluded, he was not satisfied on the material put before him that those who acted in an appalling manner toward the woman and her family were agents of the state in the sense that the state had refused or failed to provide protection.
He therefore declined to order a rehearing of the matter and he declined the request for the woman’s passport to be endorsed with a re-entry giving the right to work again.
Justice Worsley said a matter that caused him some concern was a letter brought to his attention by Mr. Brady – a letter that came into existence after the appellants had filed for judicial review in 2013.
It was signed by the deputy regional representative for the UNHCR and addressed to the governor of the Cayman Islands.
The letter said that the UNHCR recognized the three Mexican nationals as refugees in need of protection. It requested the suspension of any return of these refugees on the basis of a belief that they faced serious risk of persecution.
Justice Worsley said he had inquired what steps had been taken to obtain opinions as to reasons that could be advanced to support their claims. Nothing had been done. Having made his ruling on the basis of material before him, he addressed Mr. Brady informally.
He said he hoped the letter was something that might still be pursued. Mr. Brady indicated it was.