Liberty, a human rights organisation has gone to court to challenge the Home Office’s use of force policy, which applies to those removed from the UK by aircraft.
In 2010, Jimmy Mubenga died while being restrained by G4S guards on a flight to Angola.
Liberty says that two years earlier the department was warned that specialist training was required for restraining detainees on aeroplanes but it did nothing.
After Mr Mubenga’s death, Liberty requested a copy of the policy. The organisation says the Home Office sent a heavily censored document, making it impossible to work out whether the techniques were safe or suitable.
Liberty says it was clear the policy was designed for criminals in prison – not distressed detainees. It also ignored the special features of aircraft, where space is so limited.
Tascor, formerly Reliance, now carry out removals. Last week, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons found that Tascor escorts still haven’t been provided with training on use of force in such confined environments.
While the UKBA insists the policy is workable, Liberty says they have received reports from many people who claim to have suffered injuries after being subjected to excessive force – including a mother badly assaulted in front of her three children.
The Home Office’s sluggish, defensive attitude, Liberty says, has already cost one man his life. Mr Mubenga’s death should’ve been a wake-up call to the danger of such tactics, which simply aren’t designed for use by poorly-trained contactors on panicking deportees.
The Liberty’s challenge is designed to make the UKBA think again and take this seriously. The organisation says it’s time for a fit-for-purpose policy that deals with the difficulties removals entail – using the best advice and based on proper training and expertise.