Refugees deported from Britain are at risk of ill-treatment, abuse: report

The use of force in most cases results in abandoned removal attempt, it adds

Tags: Anne Owers, Emma Ginn, Diane Abbott

13th August 2009: Less than a month after a report found refused asylum-seekers were suffering mental illness and malnutrition, another damning report suggests even their deportation is not hassle free.
The report into the system for removing immigrants and failed asylum seekers says the refugees deported from Britain are at risk of ill-treatment and abuse by immigration officers and security guards.
The findings, published today by the chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers, further suggest the use of force in most cases has the opposite effect during the deportation process; and results in the removal attempt being abandoned.
It refers to a case where an immigrant at the last minute refused to comply due to intimidating behaviour towards the detainees by overseas escort staff.
The report also talks of inconsistent use of force by immigration officers, and failure to provide medical help, besides gaps and weaknesses in the system for complaints made by asylum seekers and in monitoring the removal process.
Ms Owers asserts the investigation also found variable practice, with no evidence that the good and thoughtful approach of some staff was mirrored in clear and consistent standards of treatment, support and communication. This heightened the risk of ill-treatment or abuse, and was also likely to lead to failed removals.
He adds they also found a number of detainees had medical problems, and medical assistance was not always at hand. In some other cases, the removals were cancelled because of the absence of escort staff, or detainees were returned from countries that refused to accept them.
Emma Ginn, coordinator of the immigration charity Medical Justice, says the report only corroborates many of their own findings published the previous year, which included nearly 300 cases of alleged assault during detention and removal.
Ginn says they see no justification for the use of force, adding injuries they saw included fractured bones, nerve damage, a punctured lung, a dislocated knee and detainees being hurried through airport buildings in wheelchairs as a result.
Diane Abbott, MP, says she is highly concerned that the Home Office has shown little motivation in addressing these issues which have been raised with them time and time again. They were told almost a year ago there would be an investigation into the abuse of immigration detainees during escort and removal.
She says it is her hope the Home Office will now do what they should have done years ago – ensure full and appropriate training of immigration officials, introduce a rigorous and fair complaints

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