A former England boxer who was trafficked from Nigeria as a child and forced into domestic servitude has won the right to remain in Britain after a 16-year legal battle.
Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, 32, was granted the right to live and work in Britain for 30 months, after being held in detention centres for months when the government attempted to deport him to Nigeria, which did not recognise him as a citizen.
“The decision means that I am free, that I can have a family, I can start a life,” Fawaz, a light-middleweight champion who has fought for England half a dozen times, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I don’t have to worry about unwarranted arrest and being taken to a detention centre,” said Fawaz, whose parents were from Lebanon and Benin.
The boxer is among thousands of people trafficked into modern slavery in Britain, many of whom are are fighting to remain in the country after being duped into leaving places such as Albania, Vietnam, China, Romania and Nigeria.
The Home Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has previously said it had a duty to protect the public by removing people with criminal records.
Fawaz has multiple convictions for crimes including drug and driving offences, a result of what his lawyers, Duncan Lewis Solicitors, described as him “trying to ‘fit in’ with other boys his age”.
Brought to Britain aged 14 under the pretence of meeting his father, Fawaz was forced to become a domestic worker, beaten and prevented from leaving the house, his lawyers said.
After escaping, Fawaz was taken into local authority care, and was granted the right to remain in the country until the age of 18. Multiple applications to stay on as an adult were denied by the Home Office (interior ministry).