New blow to campaign to keep Samet in UK

May 28 2021
New blow to campaign to keep Samet in UK

THE battle to prevent a teenager who has made Yate his home from being deported to his native Albania has suffered a new blow.

John Stokes has been campaigning to allow his foster son Samet to stay in the UK after he was trafficked into the country illegally as a 15-year-old boy following a childhood of violence and abuse in Albania.

More than 420,000 people have signed a petition in support of Samet on website change.org.

But the Home Office has refused his latest application to stay in the UK, which means John's campaign to let him remain faces another costly legal case.

Samet, who was fostered by John after escaping from the clutches of the gangs who brought him to Britain, has learnt English, goes to SGS College and is hoping to become a carpenter.

Although unaccompanied children who enter the UK are allowed to stay, once they reach the age of 18 they must apply for the right to remain.

After his initial application for asylum was turned down by the courts, Samet’s supporters launched what is known as a Fresh Claim in November. 

With an experienced barrister having joined the legal team fighting his case, paid for by donations made by well-wishers, hopes were high that this new approach to the Home Office would be successful.

But in an online update to supporters, John said the rejection of the new claim meant he would need to go to court again to fight for Samet to stay.

He said: "I cannot find the words that can really express my disappointment at the news we received from the Home Office a few days ago refusing our fresh claim for Samet.

"I truly believed that with the weight of evidence and the strength of our support we would win.

“At least I have anger, whereas poor Samet is feeling just helpless and lost.

"We do retain a glimmer of hope with an appeal. It means a few more thousand pounds to find  and the necessary energy to go again.

"This last few days I have considered conceding because I began to doubt that I have the energy left after almost two years of fighting.”

John says that many asylum seekers like Samet simply disappear after being rejected by the Home Office because they fear they will fall into the clutches of the traffickers once again.

But he said: “We have to go to court once more and whatever it takes, I will find it, because I cannot accept that this is how things are or how they should be in a fair and caring society."

John's fundraising site, #aFuture4Samet, can be found on gofundme.com at bit.ly/3i0vcPv and has a target of £28,000.