Peter Gichura

asylum seeker under threat of deportation – bringing disability discrimination
test case

Peter Gichura, father, wheelchair user and disability activist, is threatened with deportation back to Kenya, where he faces political persecution, including death threats, and the loss of the medical treatment on which his life depends.  In 2006, he was detained in Harmondsworth detention centre in appalling conditions. After legal moves and pressure from supporters, he was released.  He is now suing the Home Office and Kalyx, the private company running Harmondsworth.  It is a test case to establish if disabled people held in detention centres and prisons before December 2006 have the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Appalling conditions

Peter Gichura was detained twice in Harmondsworth in conditions, including: not being able to use the bathroom and toilet properly, suffering painful and threatening body searches and inadequate medical treatment, given the wrong medication.  Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, condemned the conditions at Harmondsworth as “the poorest report we have issued on an Immigration Removal Centre” (Nov 2006).

Access to medical treatment
Mr Gichura's original application for asylum --on grounds of political persecution as a disability activist, was refused.  In 2006, when his spinal injury worsened, he applied for asylum for medical treatment without which he would die.  Expert evidence from Rachel Hurst OBE (Disability Awareness in Action), a member of the Advisory Group to the government Office for Disability, confirming this, has been ignored.  Many other people seeking asylum face a similar fate to Mr Gichura, and others have already been sent back, because of a High Court ruling that removal does not contravene Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights -- the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.  

In a similar case, recent press coverage has highlighted the plight of a couple who face a rapid deterioration in their health and death, if they were deported, because the medical treatment they need (for HIV) would not be available and their young son would become an orphan (Independent, 4 April 2007).

Parliament condemns inhumane treatment

In March, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights condemned as unacceptable, “the deliberate use of inhumane treatment” in asylum policy and found that, “Asylum seekers as a group do not always get the greatest sympathy from society or the media, but what we have seen and heard provides very hard evidence of appalling treatment that no human being should suffer."

Also in March, Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People, signed the UK government up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of life, including access to justice and the right to health services.  But the Home Office went against the Convention in dismissing Mr Gichura’s asylum claim, then trying to deport their opponent in a test case – a move temporarily halted by the High Court judge.

Ken Livingstone

The Mayor of London, writing to minister Liam Byrne in support of Mr Gichura, said: “I would underline the wider social consequences of handling cases like these in ways that entrench . . . a perception that the UK immigration regime is unbalanced, unjust and inhumane.  I recall . . .the European Convention on Human Rights, “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law.”  He proposes discussion with the Home Office “to find some more humane middle ground” than the current refusal of medical grounds (Letter, 12 October 2006).


Victories in court

On 21 May, a district judge ruled that Mr Gichura has a valid case under the Human Rights Act. And it will be decided by the Court of Appeal whether disabled people had the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act in immigration removal centres and prisons before December 2006, when new regulations came in.  Many other people who were prisoners have cases waiting.

On 23 May, the High Court ruled that Mr Gichura will be able to stay in the UK to prepare his disability discrimination test case "at least until October". The refusal of his asylum claim might also be challenged.

Outside Central London County Court, 21 May 2007

Campaigning with Payday and WinVisible, based at the Crossroads Women's Centre, Mr Gichura has received widespread public support.  Your help is needed at this crucial time for him to win the right to stay and for his test case to go forward and be heard.


I thank all those who have supported me. I am determined not to be sent back and to continue to claim our rights as asylum seekers and people with disabilities, as human beings. Together we can change things and live a decent life.”  Peter Gichura

“People with disabilities have not only the right to life but also the right to live free from fear.  We are calling on everyone, and especially those who speak for the disability community, to defend Peter Gichura’s right to anti-discrimination protection and safety. A victory in his case would help establish rights and protections for all disabled people.”  Claire Glasman, from WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)


·     Send a donation to help with the costs of campaigning

·     Write / email the Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, demanding that Peter Gichura (HO ref: G1053958) be granted the right to stay. (model letter on WinVisible’s web pages).


Liam Byrne MP
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
fax 020 7219 2417  and

Please copy to:
Anne McGuire MP, Minister for Disabled People
fax 01786 446513 email
Malcolm Wicks MP (Mr. Gichura’s MP)
fax 020 8683 0179 email
& WinVisible or
Payday fax 020 7209 4761

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
Tel 020 7482 2496 (voice/minicom)
Payday, a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
Tel 020 7209 4751 mobile 07803 789699