By John M Davis
Today’s blog concerns the trials and tribulations of a friend from Ghana who has been very poorly treated by the UK Home Office.
I first met Kwame whilst teaching the Children’s Rights and Childhood Theory parts of the Learning, Learners and Teaching Masters course in the School of Education at The University of Edinburgh. Kwame had taken the course as an optional unit as part of a Masters in Nursing Studies.
Kwame was an enthusiastic student who made an excellent and thoughtful contribution to discussions in the class and easily grasped the complex theoretical concepts of the course. He produced an original assignment which received the highest mark in the cohort that year. Following the course we struck up a friendship that has maintained for more than ten years, up to present times.
Kwame started the Overseas Nurse Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University in October 2007. He undertook the ONS programme at the same time as his Masters in Nursing Studies at The University of Edinburgh from 2006 – 2008. His lecturers at The University of Edinburgh noted that he was a very bright and capable student who got very good grades including 2.1 for his dissertation and overall grade average – no mean feat for someone writing assignments in their second language.
Myself and Kwame meet regularly to discuss our everyday ups and downs, the political issues of the day and issues of theory, faith and belief. Kwame is a deeply religious person and though I am not religious, we greatly enjoy teasing each other about the beliefs, concepts and hypocrisies that under-pin our lives.
In the main we chat about our feelings and aspirations. There have been moments where Kwame’s faith and friendship has meant a lot to me. For example, I was deeply touched when my son was in hospital undergoing a life threatening operation and I learnt that Kwame had prayed for a good outcome, for the whole duration of the gruelling 5 hour procedure.
This very kind gesture symbolises the great, belief, care and respect we share for each other and our families. Similarly, and like a number of my friends, Kwame lit candles for me when I went to a recent job interview at the University of Strathclyde and shared in our joy when I was successful.
Viewing Kwame as a very capable, caring and intelligent person, it came as a great surprise when, in 2008 Kwame was failed on the ONP by the exam board at GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY.
Kwame has utilised the University rules and regulations and the NMC guidelines for assessing students on placement to always disputed that he failed the competencies and practical assessment.
Indeed a freedom of information request uncovered a document that stated that he had in fact passed the competencies across two work places within the Glasgow and Clyde NHS and that the Glasgow Caledonian exam board had not been alerted to the fact that there were two assessment.
Kwame has consistently argued that the evidence demonstrates that the GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY exam board made their decision based on incomplete information and did not take into account his assessed competencies over two work places.
Kwame has never been provided with a reason as to why the exam board were not informed that he had disputed their decision. Similarly, Kwame has always questioned why the exam board did not offer him the opportunity for a viva, which was part of the University assessment regulation, to establish his competence – especially in a situation where he asserts that the only document relied on by the University Extra Ordinary assessment board had not been completed properly.
You might think a University has a duty of care to such a student and that it would use all its powers to fulfil this duty of care. Kwame believes that they have not fulfilled their duty of care and is perplexed as to why GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY did not rectified their error, at the time, by reconvening the exam board and providing them with all the evidence.
Kwame was advised to take his case to the ombudsman for this sector but could not, initially, get help from the ombudsman because part of the case was already submitted to an Employment Tribunal by UNISON. Kwame subsequently contacted the ombudsman after the GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY finally rejected his request to convene a panel to review his case. Sadly, and through no fault of his own, Kwame was met with a time out from the ombudsman’s office.
Since then, Kwame has attempted various legal routes to encourage GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY to address this issue and most recently [Yeboah v Glasgow Caledonian University  ScotCS CSIH_66 (09 August 2016)] was timed out in relation to legal proceedings on the grounds of breach of contract.
In the latter case, GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY’s legal representatives made no effort to challenge Kwame’s assertion that the evidence demonstrates that he passed all his ONP competencies (simply defending on a technical ground). This suggests that GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY may be fully aware that Kwame had passed the ONP competencies and this raises questions as to why GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY have spent a great deal of tax payers’ money ensuring that they do not have to take account of the facts and new evidence that Kwame’s persistence has unearthed.
Kwame’s only hope of now obtaining justice lies with GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY addressing their organisational error on moral, rather than, legal grounds. It is clear that, contrary to University expectations, Kwame did not get a proper opportunity to make an appeal regarding this decision. Kwame could have been enabled through an appeal process to demonstrate the documentary omission to the exam board. It is very clear in University policies that exam boards should make decisions based on all the available evidence.
Kwame was sponsored by the Scottish tax payer and this raises a question as to whether all necessary steps were taken to ensure that money from the Scottish Government and Kwame’s time and effort, was well spent.
During his time in the UK, Kwame has taken a law degree in order to be able to take his own court proceedings against GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY and the home office. During one of those cases the Lord President called on the Home Office to regularise his status and Kwame’s MP, Tommy Shepheard, also wrote to the Home Office to ask why they had ignored the Lord President’s statements.
Kwame’s experience of injustice has caused untold hardship and suffering to him and his family. The suffering currently knows no end. Kwame’s livelihood and migration status was dependent on his completion of the programme. Despite fighting his case for many years and being in this country for 15 years; a couple of weeks ago officials sought to detain Kwame.
Last week Kwame’s partner Comfort Dwamena , and mother to his two children, was detained in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre. Comfort has been in the UK for 13 years. She is currently seeking bail but has been threatened with deportation by the end of the week. She reports that the conditions in the centre are demeaning in the extreme.
For almost the entire time that my Ghanaian friends have lived in Scotland the Scottish people have been campaigning against Dungavel and the Westminster Government’s unfair immigration rules.
In particular SNP MPs such as Pete Wishart have argued against Dungavel and the private sector companies that run the detention centre. He has stated that Dungavel is inhumane and racist and inappropriately treats vulnerable people. Pete Wishart argues that such centres are not required, that detention should not be used on a routine basis and that it would not be part of an independent Scotland:
Since this blog post went to press, Common Space have reported on the continued contemptable conditions at Dungavel. Comfort’s detention is totally unacceptable. We had hoped that she would be bailed on Friday but that hope did not come to fruition. Comfort is currently being represented by LB and Co Solicitors, if you are reading this post and can support them in their endeavours to gain her release please contact them.
Update – Comfort was finally released on the 24th of July after tremendous support from Tommy Shepherd MP’s office, a report from Common Space’s Ben Wray (see link here) and numerous interventions by Comfort’s Lawyers and Kwame himself who also has recently completed a Master Degree in Law with a thesis on the racist UK migration system. This is the first staging post in a residency process, there is still a long road to go to have Comfort and Kwame’s right to stay here upheld. Spare a thought for those who were not released from Dungavel along with Comfort.