Report shows asylum seekers abused during removal: Refugee Council response - Refugee Council
March 12, 2010

Report shows asylum seekers abused during removal: Refugee Council response

A report published today (12 March) has found immigration and security staff used handcuffs and violent techniques to restrain asylum seekers during their removal and deportation.

The independent report by Dame Nuala O’Loan found that handcuffs were used to restrain people during their detention and removal, including women with serious health complaints, and showed that in many cases the use of force was not proved to be “proportionate or necessary”. Lady O’ Loan reviewed 29 complaints of ill-treatment and found that UKBA had failed to properly investigate two-thirds of these cases.

The inquiry was ordered by the Home Office after a report entitled Outsourcing abuse based on 300 cases of alleged physical assault and racist abuse was published in 2008 by law firm Binberg Peirce, and organisations Medical Justice and NCADC.

The Refugee Council today welcomes the report’s recommendations.

In response Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council says:

“Dame Nuala O’Loan’s long-awaited investigation is an important assessment of the way force is used in removing asylum seekers, and we are pleased that ministers will now review this practice. We are disturbed that the report found in some cases there had not been proper consideration of whether force was necessary or proportionate, and that O’Loan expressed concern about the use of handcuffs.

“People in detention include those who have experienced torture and violence in their home country, some with serious health problems, and who have committed no crime. It is therefore of great concern that a high level of force is used to remove them. Too many people who end up facing removal have been let down by the asylum process and have a well-founded fear of returning to their country – it is of no surprise that out of sheer desperation, they resist being sent back.

“These are people’s lives we are talking about. We are pleased that the government says it will implement the recommendations of this report. But they must also invest more into supporting asylum seekers early on in the process to ensure they receive a fair outcome in their case. For those who are not allowed to stay, alternatives to detention and forced removal should be used, to reduce the distress and harm to those involved.”