Mr Emil Conka, 37-year-old Romani man from Czechoslovakia

07 July 1999

Mr Emil Čonka was born in 1961 in Slovakia. According to testimony provided to the ERRC, he was placed in an institution in 1969 after his father became involved in anti-Soviet activities following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1984 he was detained by police for work-related offenses, as well as for not reporting to the police while on probation. He was allegedly kept in a police cell for two days without food and water. On his third day in detention he was assaulted by police officers who beat him, causing him to sustain injuries including the loss of two teeth and chin laceration which required stitching. He was sent to prison in the central Czech town of Mladá Boleslav on the basis of a confession extracted from him by force. He was released in 1987.

Mr Čonka experienced another instance of police brutality in Jablonec, northern Czech Republic in July 1990, following which he fled the country, first to Germany and then to Denmark. In Denmark he contacted a solicitor, who told him that his chances of receiving asylum in Denmark were close to zero. He then left Denmark and went to Poland, where he met the woman who was to become his wife. Together the couple traveled to Norway and applied for asylum, but the Norwegian authorities refused to accept his application and expelled Mr Čonka and his fiancé to Denmark, where they were married. An asylum application filed there was rejected, and Mr Čonka then traveled with his wife to Britain, where they arrived in July 1993.

The Czechoslovak Federation had split up on January 1, 1993, and on December 31, 1994, Mr Čonka's passport expired. Since his last place of long-term residence was in the Czech part of the divided Federation, Mr Čonka applied for a Czech passport in London at the Czech embassy, but was told that in order to receive this, he would have to obtain and then renounce Slovak citizenship. The Slovak embassy, however, reportedly told Mr Čonka that he was ineligible for Slovak citizenship.

On July 3, 1996, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the British Home Office rejected Mr Čonka's application for asylum. Mr Čonka appealed the decision, bringing significant medical documentation of the ill-treatment he had suffered as evidence on his behalf. On November 20, 1998, the Home Office rejected his appeal. On November 30, Mr Čonka again appealed the negative ruling in his case, this time before the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (IAT). The IAT refused leave to appeal against the adjudicator's decision on December 31, 1998. The only domestic avenue of appeal remaining to Mr Čonka is review by the High Court, which may intervene only where legal errors have been made at a lower instance or where the decision of the tribunal is manifestly unreasonable.

The British authorities appear intent on forcing Mr Čonka to leave the United Kingdom. He is, however, presently stateless. His wife Beata is seven months pregnant. Where the British authorities believe Mr Čonka can go is not clear.

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