A Ugandan man has died at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre, according to local press reports.
The sad news coincides with a new report by the prisons watchdog which condemns the detention centre for being too ‘prison-like’.
The Verne, a former prison located in Dorset, is used to house men detained under immigration powers. During their unannounced inspection in March, Inspectors slammed the Verne for being too ‘prison-like’ after discovering that ‘illegitimate’ sanctions were used against detainees, including removing people’s internet access and restricting their movement.
Inspectors also discovered one of the worst cases of prolonged detention they had ever seen, with one man having been detained for five years. Forty others had been held for over a year.
Britain has no time limit on the length of time it can detain someone for. People imprisoned in Britain’s murky immigration detention estate can find themselves there indefinitely, with no release date in sight.
Earlier this year, a cross party group of Parliamentarians called for a the Government to place a 28 day time limit on the length of time someone can be detained for. In a damning report, MPs stated that the current use of detention was ‘disproportionate and inappropriate’, and implored the Government to investigate more cost effective community based alternatives.
Elsewhere, at the Verne, inspectors found that a third of detainees who needed a lawyer didn’t have one.
They also uncovered that Government rules, supposed to prevent the detention of vulnerable people, weren’t properly followed. Inspectors reported one case of a man describing torture, who had been detained for over three weeks, and had not been seen or assessed by a doctor as a result of administrative failings.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “The evidence is mounting that the Government is failing in its duty to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the country by consigning them to Britain’s murky immigration detention estate.
“It’s utterly abhorrent that at the stroke of a pen a Government official can deprive someone of their freedom indefinitely, without them having being charged with or convicted of any crime. This practice should have no place in a civilised country.”
MPs will debate the use of immigration detention on 10 September. Find out how you can help ensure your MP attends here.