24 Feb 2009

US court says Fiji family eligible for political asylum

4:25 pm on 24 February 2009

A US court has ruled that a Fiji family is eligible for political asylum.

Rajeshwar and Mohini Lata Singh argued that they fled Fiji with their two children in 1998 after suffering racially-motivated beatings and death threats.

Initially, the federal immigration board ruled the Singhs had not been persecuted.

However, last week the United States federal appeals court ruled in their favour.

The family's lawyer Ashwani Bhakhri, says he had expected the appeal would be successful because he believed the abuse was racially motivated.

He says Mr Singh's father was killed in 1987, and thereafter the family were beaten and robbed at the hands of indigenous Fijians.

Mr Bhakhri says the ruling is a huge relief for the family.

"They are very happy, they were very much concerned given what happened during the past. They didn't want to go back after thirteen years they feel they have become part of this country. They feel freedom everyday. So they don't want to get back to the same atmosphere they were at in 1986."

Ashwani Bhakhri says he is confident the family will now be granted asylum by the Board of Immigration Appeals.