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URGENT APPEAL TO THE HOME SECRETARY Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith MP Home Office 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF Fax: 0208 760 3132 Email: Dear Ms Smith, I ask you to show compassion in the case of Ermine Tchinda HO REF: T1080531. Ermine lived in Cameroon in a region where tribal traditions were upheld. If a Tribal Chief chooses a young woman to be his wife, she is expected to respect his demands. When Ermine refused to marry a Tribal Chief in her village, she was kidnapped and forced to go through a traditional marriage ceremony. She managed to escape when one of his other wives took pity on her. Ermine complained to the police, but no action was taken. Despite trying to relocate to an area where she could be safe, the chief continued to search for her. The Chief�s men attacked her mother, who later died as a result of her injuries and they found and beat the man who had subsequently become her partner. Ermine fled to safety in the UK in August 2003, but was refused asylum. Ermine settled in the north east and found happiness with her new partner. The couple�s little boy, Guymial was born in the UK and now attends Sacred Heart Nursery. Their second child Jean Luc was born in November 2007. Ermine goes to St. Mary�s Church where she is a valued member of the church family. At 7.00am on 24th April 2007, Ermine was arrested by Immigration Officers who took her to Yarl�s Wood Detention Centre, where the conditions are so bad that the centre has been criticised in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons. At the same time her partner (although the couple did not live together) was arrested in London and detained. The couple asked that they be treated as a family and be allowed to stay together in detention. Their request was refused. Ermine was later told that her partner had been forcibly returned to Cameroon. She has heard nothing since of his whereabouts and the Red Cross have failed to locate him despite extensive enquiries. Jean Luc has never met his father. Ermine was eventually released when her solicitor applied for a Judicial Review. Ermine is currently under the care of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture who are helping her come to terms with the trauma she has suffered. Ermine was arrested again three weeks ago and is detained in Yarl�s Wood. Detainees are currently without drinking water and are expected to buy bottled water at extortionate prices. Jean Luc, who was due to receive treatment at James Cook hospital the day after Ermine was arrested, has suffered with diarrhoea. Removal directions have been set for Monday 24th March although Ermine�s solicitor and her MP Frank Cook have made last minute representations on her behalf. The latest US country report on human rights practices in Cameroon states that the government continues to commit human rights abuses and that torture, beatings and other abuses continue with impunity. We urge the Secretary of State to intervene by halting this unjust removal and granting Ermine and her children leave to remain in the UK.

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