An Iraqi Kurd jumped to his death in Nottingham after hearing that he had been denied legal aid to fight his asylum case.
Osman Rasul Mohammed fled Iraq after his father and brother were killed. He has lived in Britain for nine years, and has two young children here. The 27-year old was terrified that he faced torture and death if he was deported.
Osman had stood on the railings of the seventh floor balcony of a block of flats for two hours before jumping.
He had applied for asylum, but it was denied because he could not prove he had a legal right to be in the country. He then applied to stay so that he could be with his children, who have British citizenship. This too was turned down.
He was destitute and had been forced to sleep on friends’ floors or on the street. Osman was not allowed to work and was living on food parcels and charitable donations.
He had relied on a charity, Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), to provide him with legal advice and representation.
But RMJ collapsed in June. Osman travelled to Croydon to try and put his case to Home Office immigration officials. He was turned away and told to get a solicitor—but there was no way he could afford to pay for any legal representation.
Former RMJ worker Joanna Petersen told the press that the charity’s Nottingham office had more than 600 clients who had to be informed that they would no longer have representation.
She said, “I had one 15 year old unaccompanied minor, who was a victim of trafficking, crying down the phone for about half an hour.”
RMJ collapsed because of the “delayed payment” system, which means legal aid solicitors are only paid at the end of cases.
In June RMJ asked the government for money it was already owed, but this was refused.
Legal aid still has a national budget of £2 billion, but this is likely to be severely hit in the next round of government cuts.
Dashty Jamal, of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, told the Guardian newspaper, “The Home Office’s immigration policy is responsible for Osman’s death. After nearly ten years he didn’t have a chance to build a life here.”