mehmud judge en

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Mehmud is a 33-year-old man from Pakistan. He has a wife and daughter currently residing there too.  A teacher by occupation, he is highly respected by all detainees — he speaks fluent English and acts as  an interpreter and an advisor. He filed an application for protection but the SAR only register approximately 7 months later. Mehmud leaves Pakistan because he is persecuted by a terrorist organisation[1] for teaching both boys and girls, which stands in violation to radical Islamic beliefs upheld by the terrorist organisation. He doesn’t share their political goals of unification with Kashmir under Pakistani rule and the extreme actions by which that aim is to be achieved.  The terrorist group cut off one of his brother’s arms.

Mr. Mehmud is  released from the Busmantsi Detention Centre[2] on the 8th of December 2015 after a court ruling from the 2nd of December 2015. Duration of detention: 9 months and 12 days.


During his detention Mr. Mehmud’s health deteriorates .


I don’t feel  well. I have high blood pressure, and one of my arms hurts, I go to  the doctor here at the Centre occasionally but he just gives me a pill which doesn’t help much.  .

When someone wants to see the doctor, the guards just tell them: ‘Doctor is not free’[3].


On the 30th of October 2015, Mr. Mehmud’s HEAR project attorney files a request for Mr. Mehmud to be medically examined at a hospital outside of the Busmantsi Centre. For three months Mr. Mehmud has  had a pronounced stiffness in the left part of the body. He was at  the centre’s clinic for 3 days and told by the in-house physician that his ECG results did not look good, recommending a consultation with a specialist at a hospital outside of the Busmantsi Centre’. Until his release on the 8th of December 2015, his request remains unanswered.. On the 25th of November 2015, the in-house physician prescribes  Milgamma (2 tables 2 times a day). Mr. Mehmud’s lawyer purchases and supplies it to him, but it runs  out quickly.


To the question: ‘Before you were brought to Busmantsi, did anyone tell you why you had to be detained? Did anyone give you an opportunity to make a statement during an interview’. Mr. Mehmud replies:

‘We were at a police station, but no one asked us such questions. They only wanted to know our names, dates of birth, which trafficker we had used, whether we had any money’.

He was detained on the 26th of February 2015 by border police at the Kalotina border crossing . According to the entry in the register of the Busmantsi Detention Centre, Mr. Mehmud is a citizen of India, although he had specified that he was from Pakistan, both in writing and verbally, and had voluntarily surrendered his Pakistani passport to the authorities.

The order on his detention on immigration grounds iss not appealed. At the time of meeting his HEAR Project attorney in October 2015 he had not had  a copy of the order. Asked what he knew about the order in question, Mr. Mehmud replied that all he had been told was: This is your six-months detention. Sign here’[4].


Asked whether anyone had further interviewed him during his detention at Busmantsi, which exceeded 9 months, Mehmud replies:

‘No. Not even when I took the initiative to talk to one of the officials – I’ve bluntly been that there was no point – that Pakistanis don’t stand a chance.’

‘We have been here for eight months. No one has asked us anything.’


‘There’s no point. Just write down that you would like to return. For the recent arrivals, it’s much better if they do, so they don’t have to wait locked up. (…) This is the first time an interpreter has come to talk to us. Before there was this boy who spoke some Bulgarian, but now I am trying to help interpret from English’.


The official information obtained with regards to Mr. Mehmud’s conducted interviews can be obtained from ‘Interview card setting out a transcript of the information provided by foreign nationals. According to  those in the period between the 26th of February 2015 and the 8th of December 2015, he was interviews on the following occasions:

(1) On 4 March 2015, in a written statement given  by Mr. Mehmud he had indicated that his nationality is Pakistani. In a survey form filled out on the 4th of March 2015, he had further indicated that his family is currently residing in Pakistan.

(2) On the 27th of August 2015, an entry was made according to which Mr. Mehmud had agreed to provide  his passport via  a courier. According to the minutes drafted on the 11th of September 2015 Mr. Mehmud had voluntarily provided  a valid and original Pakistani passport sent by courier to the authorities at the Busmantsi Centre.


 ‘There is this guy here—Pervez—about six weeks ago he was buying something from the canteen. The woman who works there shouts at people all the time. It’s normal. But this time, a policeman showed up. He didn’t say anything, he just grabbed the boy forcefully.. I saw him drag the boy outside, on the stairs in front of the canteen. He knows where the cameras would not have caught him.. He grabbed him by the neck and punched him.. For about 10 minutes he hit him like an animal. Ourselves  and many guards saw this. Because Pervez’s condition became so bad, the officials tried to cover up what had happened. All we, Pakistanis, decided we were not going to eat. Dancho asked what was going on and the guards told him that it was all business as usual. We then asked Dancho whether he knew why they had beaten Pervez up. He then said that if we didn’t stop  the hunger strike we’d be deported immediately. We then asked Dancho to at least make sure that the policeman apologizes. They told us: “If you bring this up again – deportation”.  


On the 26th of August 2015, the Head of the Migration Directorate issues an order extending the Mr Mehmud’s detention by a further six months. In the order, Mr Mehmud’s nationality is again listed as Indian.. The document states that the extension  was not due to lack of a valid travel document nor difficulty in identifying the individual. An interview with Mr. Mehmud is conducted AFTER the order is issued – on the 27th of August 2015.


During the court hearing in the lawsuit contesting the extension of the period of Mr. Mehmud’s detention, he does take physical part in the courtroom and is heard with the help of a Court appointed translator, even though the Migration Directorate submits a declaration on his behalf that  Mr. Mehmuddid not wish to appear in court nor had he requested that an interpreter be appointed. Before the Court, Mr. Mehmud confirmed his express wish to speak and asked that an Urdu  interpreter  be appointed to him.

‘The judge asked in English whether I wanted to attend the court sessions and what interpreter I wanted present. I told her that I did and would prefer an Urdu interpreter.’


Mr. Mehmud has a HEAR Project attorney. At the following  Court hearing, with the help of the Urdu interpreter , Mr. Mehmud successfully tells the judge about his health problems at the Busmantsi Detention Centre. He also shares the life threatening reasons he could not return to Pakistan. He further recounts  that a representative of the Pakistani Consulate in Sofia had informed him that the Bulgarian authorities has been  making arrangements to deport him to Pakistan on the 3rd ofDecember 2015, although he had filed an application for asylum protection. He askes the Court to free him of his detention  as it makes him vulnerable to being forcefully deported back to Pakistan. Mr. Mehmud also explains that should  the Court allow his freedom, he could live with friends or find accommodation at one of the open SAR refugee centres. By a ruling from the [5] 2nd of  December 2015, the Court orders the termination of Mr. Mehmud’s detention and he is released. The Court bases the decision on the fact that Mr. Mehmud is an asylum seeker  which effects his non – refoulment right, noting that no information whatsoever has been received that the Migration Directorate has taken steps to return the foreign national to his country of origin’ as at the date of the technical and documentary evidence presented in the case (8 October 2015)  validates Mr Mehmud’s national passport. .


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Mr. Mehmud files an application for asylum protection on the 9th of March 2015 through the Busmantsi Detention Centre with a reference number given on the 11th of March 2015 by  the Migration Directorate, but is registered by the SAR on the 30th of September 2015. In the meantime, through a letter dated the 23rd of July 2015, a procedure for readmission is  launched by  the Border Police (evident from the documents submitted in the case in relation to the extension of the period of detention). During that procedure Mr. Mehmud is  interviewed twice by SAR employees, once  on the 30th of September 2015 (discussing registration and establishing the itinerary without a discussion for  the reasons for seeking protection) and again on the 23rd of November 2015.


‘During the interview, an interpreter translated from English.  She  told me to give short single sentence answers.That way, for example, she summarised my replies by saying: ‘He has a religious problem’.


Pursuant to a decision by the authority that conducted the interview on  the same date (23 November 2015) Mr. Mehmud’s asylum application  is dismissed as unreasonable. Mr. Mehmud appeals the dismissal, but by a final judgment in his case, the Sofia Administrative Court also dismisses  it. The Court holds that Mr. Mehmud had been  advised of his rights and obligations in writing, receiving a copy at the time of his registration on the 30th of September 2015. The Court holds that ‘The  place where the interview was conducted is irrelevant to the truthfulness and objectivity of the answers given. Even if the interview had been held at the Reception Centres in Sofia or Pastrogor, the interview would have resulted in the disclosure of the same information (…) The interview was conducted by a competent official; the foreign national who had filed an application for protection was interviewed in person; and given the absence of any barriers to communication between interviewer and the interviewee, the procedure adheres  to applicable administrative procedural  requirements[6].



Mr. Mehmud is an asylum seeker, but at the  Busmantsi Detention Centre the message veered towards him is that ‘Pakistanis don’t stand a chance’, his asylum application is registered 7 months after it was entered, and is reviewed and denied during his detention. The only interview relating to his application is not conducted in Urdu but in English while being instructed to give short one sentence answers. This is the only relevant interview which also took place 9 months after his initial detention during which the authorities launched a procedure for the refoulment  of Mr. Mehmud.


It is yet another issue that the authorities fail to take into account  the written and verbal statements made by Mr. Mehmud with  regards his nationality thathe is a citizen of Pakistan, not India. Without so much as taking the minimum effort to correctly note his nationality, the authorities propose that the period of Ms Mehmud’s  detention be extended by six months because of ‘having difficulties identifying him’.


Although the Migration Directorate submits before the Court  a signed statement according to which Mr. Mehmud had chosen not to appear or make a statement before a judge, he is still summoned and allowed to exercise his right to defense. As a result of Mr. Mehmud’s hearing,  a conclusion is drawn that the detention  is unlawful, that it did not seek to achieve a legitimate aim, and that it should be terminated.

In this case as well, it is demonstrated how the shortage of interpreters and the inadequate communication with the detainees held at the Busmantsi Centre, including the repeated use of police brutality against them[7].


[1] Her name has been withheld for safety reasons.

[2] Special Home for the Temporary Accommodation of Foreign Nationals.

[3] In the original text in Bulgarian, the phrase has been used in English.

[4] The text appears in English in the Bulgarian original.

[5] Sofia Administrative Court, 4th Panel, Case No 8571/2015.

[6] Judgment dated 11 March 2016 on the record of Panel 15 of the Sofia Administrative Court in Case No 12045/2015

[7] One of the visits has also been described by Mehmud’s lawyer here in a blog under the title Courage on 16 October 2015 hereбезстрашие/