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INQUEST joins Liberty in challenge to Home Office detainee restraint policy
5 June 2014
The human rights organisation Liberty has brought a second challenge to the Home Office's refusal to disclose its policy on restraint of individuals being removed from the UK. The challenge, which follows a judicial review hearing last year for which INQUEST provided a witness statement, is being heard at the court of appeal yesterday and today.
Following the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died after being restrained on a British Airways flight in October 2010 during an attempt to remove him to Angola, Liberty requested a copy of the government policy on use of force during removal. The version they received was so heavily redacted as to make it impossible to judge the safety or suitability of the techniques, neither did it take into account the specific environment of an aeroplane.
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, said:
“It is shameful that despite the well-known dangers of restraint on immigration detainees that have resulted in deaths and serious injuries we know of no changes to policy and practice. The failure to disclose use of force guidance prevents full accountability and proper scrutiny of its safety and lawfulness.”
Emma Norton, Legal Officer for Liberty, said:
“The Home Office’s sluggish and defensive attitude has already resulted in one person’s death. This should have been a sharp wake-up call to the danger of tactics designed for use on violent criminals and not by badly trained contractors on panicking immigration detainees. We’ve seen the nasty underbelly of immigration control – now we need fundamental reform.”
‘At the time of the tragedy, I had no idea of what to do or who to turn to. By luck, I found yourselves and contacted you, the rest as we say is history. On behalf of [my brother's] family, friends and myself I would just like to thank you so much for your professional support and advice during that difficult period and without that help, I do not think we would be where we are today.’
– Brother of a man who died in police custody