#Human Rights
Liam Byrne MP, Minister for Borders and Immigration
United Kingdom

Peter Gichura is a committed disability rights activist who has lived in Croydon, UK, since 2001. Despite the difficulties Peter has faced as an asylum seeker, he has spent his time positively, successfully completing NVQ level 4 in accounting and doing voluntary work and activities with Payday men’s network, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities), Leonard Cheshire Disability and his local church. Peter is an active and well-respected member of his local community, with many friends and networks in the UK.

Peter is from Kenya and was instrumental in establishing a disabled persons’ organisation, advocating for the rights of disabled street hawkers. He fled in 2001 to escape anti-Kikuyu persecution against disability activists. The situation in Kenya remains very volatile.

Whilst in the UK, Peter has made good use of his campaigning skills, by being involved in campaigns to improve access to public services for disabled people, including London buses.

Peter has made a significant contribution to the disabled people’s movement in the UK. As an asylum seeker, he was detained in Harmondsworth in 2006, without accessible washing and toilet facilities, not given the correct medication, and subjected to painful body searches. With the support of WinVisible and Payday, Peter challenged the Home Office and Kalyx, the company that runs Harmondsworth detention centre, using the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

In May, the Court of Appeal made a precedent ruling on his DDA case -- that all disabled people in custody before December 2006 do have the protection of anti-discrimination legislation. But the authorities’ liability over how he was treated is still to be decided. The case is likely to be heard in 2009. This is an important case that affects all disabled people in custody in the UK.

During the plane journey to the UK in 2001 Peter was manhandled, causing his spinal injury to worsen. He has gone from using crutches to using a wheelchair, and relies on medical treatment without which he would die. In 2006, he applied for asylum on that basis: "As someone with spinal injury I am vulnerable to chronic kidney infection and need sanitary living conditions to survive – but there is no running water where I am from in Nyahururu, Kenya. I cannot afford medical treatment – and there is no free healthcare." Expert evidence confirmed this but was ignored, and Peter’s claim was turned down.

Removal now would put Mr Gichura’s health and life at risk, while denying him the opportunity to provide evidence in the DDA case.

Above all, Peter has built his life in the UK, has contributed to society through his active commitment to voluntary and community groups. Peter has the skills and experience that will help him to build a career, and will thus be able to support himself financially if he is given leave to remain in the UK.

We the undersigned recognise the contribution that Peter Gichura has made to UK life as well as the threat to his life should he be returned to Kenya, and call upon the Secretary of State to reconsider his case and to grant him permission to remain in the UK.

The Give Peter Gichura leave to remain in the UK petition to Liam Byrne MP, Minister for Borders and Immigration was written by Lee Webster and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.