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Inquest into the death of Rubel Ahmed at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre starts on Monday 11 May 2015
8 May 2015
In the Central Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court,
The Lincoln Cathedral Centre,
17 Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PX
Listed 11 to 15 May 2015
Before HM Senior Coroner Mr Stuart Fisher
26 year old Rubel Ahmed was found hanging in his room at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre on 5 September 2014. A few days earlier he had been informed of the Home Office’s decision to remove him to Bangladesh on 8 September 2014 He was pronounced dead on 6 September 2014.
Rubel had been detained at Morton Hall since 21 July 2014 in conditions described by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons as “austere”, where “detainees were inappropriately locked into their rooms at night”. He was one of many immigration detainees held in former prisons. A parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK, which published its report in March this year, expressed concern that immigration detainees are “increasingly being held in prison-like conditions”, a practice which “would appear to contradict the Home Office’s own policy of maintaining a relaxed regime”. Rubel and his fellow detainees were regularly locked in their rooms for long periods during the evening and at night.
Rubel’s family heard of his death around 8.00am on 6 September 2014 via a fellow detainee. Despite their desperate attempts to contact Morton Hall and pleas for confirmation of Rubel’s death they were told by staff at Morton Hall that they should contact the Home Office’s press office. The Home Office confirmed Rubel’s death by telephone around 2.00pm that day. The circumstances of his death were confused causing further distress to his family.
Aktarun Miah, Rubel’s cousin, said:
“An optimistic and warm hearted individual, Rubel’s swift departure has left an ever expanding hole in all our lives. We are constantly reminded of his absence and the lives of his close family have been changed forever. We now cherish Rubel in our memories.
We are anxious to learn as much as possible about the circumstances surrounding Rubel’s death at the inquest. We hope that lessons may be learnt so that another family can be spared what we have had to endure.”
Clare Richardson, the family’s solicitor, said:
“Our clients have been given cause for real concern about the conditions in which Rubel was held before his death. They hope that the Home Office and Ministry of Justice will approach the inquest with open minds, willing to learn from the evidence they hear so that practices can be made safer and more humane for all those affected by immigration detention in the future.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“The culture of locking up immigration detainees in prison like conditions has been the subject of repeated criticism. Rubel’s experience is sadly not unique. There have been a number of reports documenting the impact of immigration detention on a detainee’s mental and physical well being with detrimental results”.
INQUEST has been working with the family of Rubel Ahmed since September 2014. The family is represented by INQUEST lawyers Group members Clare Richardson of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and barrister Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers.
The family ask for privacy whilst the inquest is ongoing and will not be speaking to members of the press until it is concluded.
- Information about the independent review of the welfare of immigration detainees can be found here
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on Morton Hall can be found here
- The APPG report into the use of immigration detention in the UK can be found here
- Submission to the Parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK, hosted by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons (1 October 2014) can be found here
- The Tavistock Institute’s Review of Mental Health Issues in Immigration Removal Centres can be found here
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah