Stranded UK mother in family visit plea
Manama, June 7, 2014
A single mum from Britain, who has been stranded in Bahrain for five years, is urging her embassy to be 'legal guarantor' so that she can visit family in London with her 11-year-old son.
Jamie Laforme, 35, lost her job in 2009 and is now subject to a travel ban because of the estimated BD20,000 ($52,820) in unpaid rent she owes to her landlord, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
A letter sent to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this year by Laforme's mother has received a reply from Minister of State for the Middle East Hugh Robertson, who was in Bahrain recently, saying that the British Embassy would provide consular support.
However, Robertson added that the British government would be unable to intervene on Laforme's behalf in the six-year-long court battle she has had with her estranged husband over financial aid, which is currently being considered by a Sharia (Islamic law) court.
"But there are other ways they could assist me," Laforme told the GDN.
"Both my travel bans, which are rent-related, are civil cases that will be pending until my divorce is resolved.
"Seeing as my case has already exceeded six years, is it not possible to discuss with the court or immigration the possibility of the British Embassy being a legal guarantor?
"They could help me obtain legal residency here in Bahrain so that my son would be able to attend school, my driving licence can be renewed, and I can try to find work to support both of us," she stated.
Laforme suggested that as guarantor, the embassy could ensure that she would return to Bahrain to finish her pending court cases.
She claims to have been told by officials at the British Embassy that Ambassador Iain Lindsay has presented her case to Bahrain's Royal Court, but has yet to receive any update.
"After a number of calls, nobody seemed to know anything about that meeting - I went to the embassy, but was unable to see a representative as to my dismay they are only open to the public for two hours a day, three days a week, by prior appointment," she said.
In March, the GDN reported that Laforme's son Radhi had been unable to attend school for two years because his mother's residence visa has expired, she is unable to work legally and cannot afford to pay tuition fees.
Her alleged ex-partner - a Saudi national who claims the child is not his and the marriage is illegitimate - has also refused to take a DNA test at the Jaffari Sharia Court, where the case it being heard.
The court has said it has no legal authority to make the man attend hearings or take a DNA test, but he has been placed on a travel ban list so that if he enters Bahrain, he cannot leave until the case is resolved.
"Even though this legal battle is held in Bahrain, the Saudi government should also be addressing this matter," said Laforme.
"I have tried a number of times to get them to do so, but to no avail. I believe a more formal approach is required." No one from the British Embassy or Robertson was available for comment when contacted by the GDN.-TradeArabia News Service