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Petition Tag - fijian
Isimeli Baleiwai known as 'Bale' to his friends is facing deportation from the UK after serving 13 years with the British Armed Forces. Bale is a foreign and commonwealth soldier from Fiji who was recruited by the MOD when he was 18.
He has served in 5 operational tours including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. His wife Kim is British and they have two young children a boy of 3 and a girl of 6; both British. Bale voluntarily discharged from the Armed Forces on June 15th 2012 in order to provide stability for his family.
He applied for British Citizenship in March while still a serving soldier. This was advised to him by MOD personnel because he had served 13 years and had a British wife and children. This was refused on 28/06/2012 by UKBA, Bale sent an 'appeal for review' but recieved a letter from UKBA on 14/07/2012 stating he had until 9th August 2012 to leave the country.
Under changes made to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1973 (ROA) in 2010 disciplinary offences dealt with at the Commanding Officer's discretion can now be equated to a criminal conviction.
Bale was fined in 2011 by his Commanding Officer for fighting with another soldier who instigated the fight. There was no police involvement, no trial, no defence and nor was it impartial. Bale did not know he was being charged with a criminal conviction. He believed this was an 'in-house' disciplinary offence only. He has no criminal record, this offence is only on his military record. There was no court martial. He has now appealed the conviction.
Under the changes made to ROA in 2010 Bale is now defined as a criminal by the Home Office and of not good character to become a British citizen or apply for indefinite leave to remain.
This is devastating for him and his family. It is a breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act (1998) and Armed Forces Covenant (2011). It is also inherently racist because the changes made will have no impact on his British Armed Forces colleagues because these military offences are not held on a criminal record. This change only has implications to immigration Law and Policy. The family believe the law and policy is discriminative.
Please show your support for Bale and his family, their lives are in turmoil. Bale has been told he has until the 9th August 2012 to leave the Country.
The Home Office has been using this 'Law' to deport Foreign and Commonwealth soldiers who have been medically discharged as well. This is a disgrace and immoral!
Last 10 minutes of show
For further links go to facebook page Bale Baleiwai http://www.facebook.com/bale.baleiwai?ref=tn_tnmn#!/bale.baleiwai?sk=wall
Twitter campaign @letbaleiwaistay
The family are humbled by offers of donations, however Veterans Aid are advocating for our family and others like us. If you would like to donate please donate to them at http://www.veterans-aid.net/
On 26th July Bale won the right to appeal his military offence 'out of time' because it was not in accordance with Article 6. UKBA still do not accept that this means it can not equate to a criminal offence. They granted Bale discretional leave to remain on 30th July. They have stated they will not make a decision on his deportation until the miltary offence is heard in a court of law. This is not a retrial as there was not one in the first place, this is being treated as a new case. Bale currently can stay but with no rights (work, doctor, benefits) he has a job offer but is unable to take it. Veteran's Aid and his wife will now be supporting the family. Bale feels his service has been dishonoured and UKBA are trying to make his family destitute.
Update: On 20/11/2012 Bale was found NOT GUILTY of his summary offence at Colchester Military Court.
On 05/12/12 Bale was informd that the Home Office would be granting him citizenship. The Baleiwai family are overjoyed that this nightmare has finally come to an end. They also hope that this injustice is not repeated again and the new changes in Law prevent innocent soldiers from being deported or denied their rights.
The Baleiwai family would like to say a great Big Thank-you to everyone who has signed the petition and supported them and in by doing so have helped a lot of others who are facing the same injustice. The support has been overwhelming and kept the family going. Despite the challenges of the last 6 months the family feel blessed to have met so many great people on the way and be part of something that has resulted in a change for the better.
After a bar fight, which Marika did not start, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison (serving 8 months) for opposing discrimination in the army. He and a colleague were discriminated against and verbally abused and an altercation ensued between them and a group of British army soldiers.
While simply defending himself, he injured two fellow soldiers and as a result was imprisoned after, what he considers an unfair trial.
Marika wished to plead not guilty and acted in self defence but was finally convinced by the lawyer to plead guilty in order to stay in the army.
The result was a prison sentence of 16 months (serving 8 months) and dismissal from the army.
This means he will most probably be deported back to Fiji, a country undergoing a military coup.
His life and army career have been destroyed. A trivial bar fight coupled with lies appear to be enough to dismiss a loyal soldier.
Someone who is willing to die for this country should be treated with dignity and respect and not with deportation.
Marika was sentenced to 16 months in prison (serving 8 months) for opposing discrimination in the army. He and a colleague were discriminated against and verbally abused and an altercation ensued between them and a group of British army soldiers. While simply defending himself, he injured two fellow soldiers and as a result was imprisoned after, what he considers an unfair trial.
Marika wished to plead not guilty and acted in self defence. His lawyer tried to convince him to plead guilty and advised him that he would be kicked out of the army and sent to prison for a long time if he did not plead guilty.
This lawyer was no longer supposed to represent him after he realised, on the day of the trial, that he was representing the other side’s witness in a sex offence. A barrister took over and again tried to convince Marika to plead guilty, telling him if he chose to plead not guilty he could face severe punishment. He did not fully explain the consequences (he would lose his right to claim self defence) of pleading guilty to Marika.
On the day of his sentencing his original lawyer arrived to represent him again. No one was sure who was now supposed to be representing Marika, especially when the lawyer revealed that the barrister still had all the paperwork for the case. These circumstances were vastly unsettling for Marika in, what was already, a very stressful situation.
Marika had difficulty following the law jargon because of his lack of English and the only thing he really understood was that if he did not plead guilty he would be dismissed from the army. It was never mentioned that he acted in self defence and that he did not start the fight. His side of the story was never heard.
Marika maintained, as stated in the interviews, that he was acting in self defence. He believes that witnesses lied to the court and statements were exaggerated. Marika pleaded guilty because he was led to believe that this would help him to keep his career and to protect his future in the army.
As a result, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison (serving 8 months) and dismissed from the army.
His first appeal at the Court Martial Appeal Court was denied by a single judge.
His human rights were violated. According to Article 6 of the European Rights Convention it is a fundamental requirement that if a defendant in criminal proceedings does not have sufficient knowledge of the language in which the proceedings are conducted he must be provided with an interpreter from the time when the investigations begin.
An interpreter should have been provided for the following purposes:
•Dealing with the interviews and understanding the legal advice given
•Understanding the caution and its implications
•Preparation for the case
•Understanding the implications when Marika was advised to plead guilty
•Providing information to others
•Understanding the court martial proceedings