27 March 2019

Before HM Assistant Coroner Richard Furniss
West London Coroner’s Court
11-25 March 2019

The inquest into the death of Tarek Chowdhury, 64, concluded on Monday (25 March), with the jury finding that failings in the immigration detention system contributed to the killing. Tarek was unlawfully killed by Zana Yusuf Ahmed on 1 December 2016. The jury found that Zana Ahmed was inappropriately placed in the immigration detention estate.

On 21 September 2016, the Home Office risk assessed that Zana Yusuf Ahmed was inappropriate for transfer from prison to an immigration removal centre (IRC) due to his violent behaviour. He therefore remained in the prison estate. He was not due to be assessed for potential transfer again for another four months, but just weeks later, on 10 October 2016, his transfer to an IRC was considered suitable and approved.

The Home Office disclosed evidence during the inquest that this transfer was merely to assist with the reduction of foreign national offenders within the prison estate. It was accepted by the Home Office that Zana Ahmed should never have been transferred, on consideration of his violent behaviour in custody – particularly as the day before he had attacked another prisoner.

Alongside the failure to properly assess Zana Ahmed’s mental health and risk of violence, the inquest jury found that there was an absence of an appropriate system to share information about the risk of violence, which caused and contributed to Tarek’s death. They also found that there were failures to share information about his mental health, as well as inappropriate staffing and handover arrangements between the night and morning of the killing, which may have contributed to Tarek’s death.

One of the issues highlighted at the inquest was access to intelligence and prisoner history information held by the Ministry of justice, which was not available to staff at Colnbrook IRC. The Ministry of Justice and Home Office are only in communication regarding the sharing of the intelligence information, however it was unclear as to how and when this would happen.

The jury also heard evidence that Tarek was suitable for an interview for administrative removal without being detained, but that he was held in an IRC due to an error by the Home Office.

Tarek Chowdhurys family said: “We want to take this opportunity to thank the Coroner and the jury for considering carefully the evidence that led to our beloved Tarek’s death. These proceedings have shown us that the systems are broken and that it is time for agencies to do some soul searching. Mr Ahmed should never have been in an immigration detention centre and no one took responsibility for ensuring that it was safe for him to be there. Tarek became victim to his horrific assault. To make matters even worse, we found out that Tarek himself should not have been in detention. Tarek’s wife and daughters were expecting their husband and father to join them back home in Bangladesh, but instead they received news of his death.”

Bharine Kalsi of Dighton Pierce Glynn solicitors said: “The jury in this case have heard of a catalogue of systemic failings by various agencies, but in particular the immigration detention estate, that allowed this brutal killing to occur. Mr Chowdhury’s family will have to live with the fact that had Mr Ahmed been adequately risk assessed and information shared, their loving husband, father, grandfather and brother would not have been killed. No family should have to be confronted by this fact. It is now time for agencies to rectify the catastrophic system failings that have come to light during this inquest.”

Natasha Thompson, Caseworker at INQUEST, who supported the family said: “The findings of this inquest are further evidence of the Home Office’s arbitrary and careless use of immigration detention. The inquest heard that neither Tarek Chowdhury, nor the man who killed him, should have been detained, by the Home Office’s own standards.

Since Tarek’s death, fourteen immigration detainees have died in detention or shortly after release. Ending the use of immigration detention is a call supported by numerous expert NGOs, including the British Medical Association. We believe it is the only way to prevent further deaths and suffering.”




For more information contact Lucy McKay by email or call 020 7263 1111

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Bharine Kalsi of Dighton Peirce Glynn Solicitors and Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers.

Other parties represented were the Home Office, Mitie, the Ministry of Justice, Central and North West London (CNWL) Trust and two former nurses at Colnbrook IRC.

In September 2018, INQUEST wrote a briefing for the Joint Committee on Human Rights which details the ongoing deaths and arising issues in immigration detention.