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Night of June 26, 2017
         

Hamit
EritreaFrance

On the road to exile, the ordeal of an eritrean asylum seeker without fingerprints

Hamit* was born in Libya of Eritrean parents who had fled from the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 2011 his father was killed by shellfire right in the middle of the civil war. The young man and his mother then returned secretly to Eritrea. A neighbor reported them to the police who hastened to search for them. Hamit and his mother were in danger of being apprehended. The young man could have been forced into military service for life. Hamit then went off on the road toward exil in the hopes of making it to Europe. But his smugglers handed him over to a « torture house» in Libya where he is detained for nine months and undergoes inhumane treatment aimed in vain at getting ransom money from his relatives. He is finally put to hard labor on a farm from which he manages to escape by taking to the sea.

The Italian Coast Guard picks him up and forces him to register his finger prints having tied him up and beaten him with a club. Having arrived on the European Continent he flees to France where he burns his fingers with glue so he won’t be sent back to Italy and be subjected to more mistreatment. In France, Hamit’s asylum request is rejected by OFPRA (The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons). ACAT helped him write up his life story for the first time and make an appeal with the help of a lawyer. In spite of this, his appeal was rejected : his Eritrean nationality has been cast into doubt and his fears in case of return have not been taken into account. Eritrea is nonetheless a dictatorship which has been accused by the U.N. for 25 years of having committed crimes against its own people. This battered and isolated young man can only hope that the French administration will not go so far as expelling him.

*The name has been changed to protect the individual.

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Hamit

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