As part of its ongoing monitoring of deaths in custody, INQUEST monitors deaths in Immigration Removal Centres (IRC) and Immigration Detention Centres (IDC).
Many people in immigration detention are especially vulnerable due to physical or mental ill health. The high number of recorded self-inflicted deaths mirrors the high incidence of mental ill health and self-harm in immigration detention.
There have been several cases in recent years that have raised concerns over the quality of care offered to immigration detainees, including the case of Mohamed Shuket, AA, and Prince Kwabena Fosu, all of whom died in IRC’s, and Abdullah Hagar ‘Joker’ Idris, who died in prison.
Furthermore, several cases have revealed extremely serious issues relating to the use of excessive force against detainees. Concerns about the use of excessive force against detainees were raised by UNCAT as far back as 2005, and remain unresolved. The 2008 Outsourcing Abuse dossier documented almost 300 alleged assaults against deportees at the hands of private escorts.
The death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man who died during a deportation while being escorted by G4S security guards in 2010, has raised serious questions about the legality of the restraint used.
A judicial review claim initiated by human rights organisation Liberty challenging the lawfulness of the UK Border Agency’s use of force policy in relation to immigration detainees was heard by the High Court in February 2013. INQUEST provided a witness statement documenting the importance of transparency, publication and scrutiny of the use of force in the context of children in custody, and the significance of this learning in relation to immigration detainees. The challenge was rejected, but Liberty has lodged an appeal which is likely to take place in late 2013.
‘You have clearly made yourselves a force to be reckoned with, a powerful instrument for good. In the process you have not only achieved real change in an aspect of our common life which would have commanded little attention or esteem were it not for your efforts, but you have at the same time offered enormous support to those bereaved people who long for a clear verdict on the death in custody of someone who means a great deal to them.’
– Dr Peter Selby, President of the National Council for Independent Monitoring Boards