NCADC welcomes today’s report from the Home Affairs Select Committee, which raises concerns that the potentially lethal ‘head-down’ restraint technique is used during enforced removals, that racist language is used by escort staff, that there are too many escorts used in operations, and that risk assessments focus on the risk to escort staff rather the individual being removed.
We agree with its recommendations of better recording of medical conditions, an independent monitoring procedure, the need for urgent guidance to be issued to escort staff about restraint methods and research into appropriate restrain on aircraft, and the need to abolish the ‘reserve’ system during removals.
NCADC believes, however, that this report does not go far enough. We hear on a far too regular basis from individuals who have been verbally and physically abused in immigration detention and during attempted removals. This is simply unacceptable.
Our 2008 co-authored report, Outsourcing Abuse, highlighted this appalling and hidden aspect of our immigration system. Abuses have continued to occur, including the dangerous restraint of a Congolese asylum seeker and the tragic death of Jimmy Mubenga. Jimmy’s widow is still waiting for justice, and the investigation into his death – nearly a year and a half on – has still not been concluded.
Despite this body of evidence and constant criticism of the contracting of UKBA’s dirty work out to private companies, UKBA has failed to act on this gravely serious issue, and claims ‘not to have received any evidence’ that dangerous restraint techniques have been used. The report deals very well with the myriad reasons why an individual facing removal (or who has been removed) may not have confidence or feel safe using the complaints procedure. Time and again, the dangerous and offensive behaviour of staff acting on UKBA’s orders has been brought to their attention, and they have failed to act.
We hope that this measured and important report from the cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee will at last compel UKBA to take this issue seriously, as lives are at stake. People in need of protection or with the right to live in the UK are being failed by a dysfunctional asylum and immigration system, poor quality decision making by UKBA, often no or poor quality legal advice, and dangerous enforcement procedures.
With clear evidence of dangerous techniques being employed during enforcement operations, and with the investigation into the death of Jimmy Mubenga still ongoing, we call on the Home Office to cease forced removals.
Hear NCADC interviewed on the BBC about these issues (programmes broadcast on 26 January 2012, available on iplayer for 7 days):
BBC Scotland (at 1:19)
Bristol (at 43 mins)
Hereford and Worcester (at 1:30:30)
Kent (at 2:11:50)
Shropshire (at 2:42:30)
Nottingham (at 1:55:40)
Hear Medical Justice’s Emma Ginn interviewed on BBC Radio 4.