Hundreds of deportees left ‘immobile’ for hours by restraints

Hundreds of deportees left ‘immobile’ for hours by restraints

Hundreds of deportees have been left ‘immobile’ for hours by leg and waist restraints on charter flights as they are kicked out of the UK, new figures show

  • Some 335 deportees were given more than one form of restrain since April 2018
  • In 102 cases, three difference pieces of restraint equipment were used at once
  • Home Office deportation policy calls for a presumption against restraint  

Hundreds of people have been rendered ‘immobile’ by rigid bar handcuffs and leg or waist restraint belts during deportations since March last year.

There have been 447 cases where one or more forms of restraint were used as people were forcibly removed from the UK between April 2018 and March this year. 

And despite the Home Office policy on deportation offering a presumption against restraint, 335 cases saw more than one form of restraint being used at the same time – something that renders the person ‘immobile’, according to one report. 

There have been 447 cases where one or more forms of restraint were used as people were forcibly removed from the UK between April 2018 and March this year (file image)

Even more dramatically, in 102 cases, three different pieces of restraint equipment were used at once, according to the results of a Freedom of Information request made by The Guardian. 

Labour MP David Lammy said the data ‘paints a hugely chilling picture’ of an experience not unlike that of ‘the ancestors of those who find themselves on these flights’ who ‘were once put in chains and shackles too’.

‘This abuse of power is utterly shameful and future generations will look back on it with horror,’ he added.

On a chartered flight to Nigeria and Ghana earlier this year ‘waist restraint belts were still being used on cooperative detainees for extremely long periods without them being given a chance to demonstrate compliance’, a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, published on Friday, reads.  

The Home Office first created guidance for officials carrying out deportations after Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan, died from a cardio-respiratory collapse in 2010. Pictured with his wife Adrienne Makenda Kambana

Another report, published last year, condemned the use of restraint on a charter flight where 22 out of 23 passengers were held in restraint belts – despite no passengers being labelled disruptive or a risk.

Najat Ibrahim Ismail, 32, an Iraqi Kurd, was placed under restraint during one of three attempted deportations in recent months.

He told The Guardian: ‘The feeling you get when you’re placed in handcuffs and the waist restraint belt is indescribable. 

I didn’t move because I thought if I did I might get injured. I just sat quietly and prayed. The whole thing felt so humiliating.’

His deportation was cancelled and he is now back home with his British wife Emma Ismail, and three young British children, including a 10-year-old son with autism. 

The Home Office first created guidance for officials carrying out deportations after Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan, died from a cardio-respiratory collapse in 2010.

Mr Mubenga’s death, caused by excessive restraint, was ruled unlawful by a coroner.

Since 2016 officials have been forced to ‘preserve the dignity of the detainee’ while deciding whether to place them under restraint.

And, despite the elderly, infirm and terminally ill still not being automatically exempt from any form of restraint, officials must avoid ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’. 

In 102 cases, three different pieces of restraint equipment were used at once, according to the results of a Freedom of Information request made by The Guardian

Where a restrainer belt and leg restraint are used together a deportee is rendered ‘immobile’ which could lead to a ‘significant risk’ or even ‘catastrophic’ results, a report by the Independent Panel on Non-Compliance Management says. 

‘If a person was carried in this state there were “significant risks” and that if the person was dropped the “consequences could be catastrophic”,’ the report adds.

A Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian: ‘The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance, as is the safety of individuals and those around them.

‘We keep the use of restraint during escorted removals under review and we look at all removals where force is used to ensure that techniques are used proportionally, that they are justified, and are used for the minimum period required.’  

Since 2016 officials have been forced to ‘preserve the dignity of the detainee’ while deciding whether to place them under restraint (file image)

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