An inquest jury decided yesterday that Manuel Bravo, an Angolan asylum seeker, killed himself after being detained so that his son would be able to stay in the UK. His son, who was 13 years old, was his only family in Britain and is now being cared for by a foster family. The hearing revealed a series of failures in the asylum system that resulted in Mr Bravo representing himself at his appeal hearing after his lawyer failed to attend, then being told by an immigration official who came to his house that he would help Mr Bravo before returning the next day with enforcement officers and a battering ram and taking Mr Bravo and his son to Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
Anna Reisenberger, Deputy Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This is a tragic case that illustrates all too painfully the massive failings in the asylum system. The lack of access to adequate legal representation, the confusion surrounding his case and the use of detention are all familiar flaws and demonstrate how utterly essential it is to get these things right.
“This is the second inquest in as many weeks into the suicide of an asylum seeker in detention. There is a third next week. Surely it is about time to start questioning the way detention is used within the asylum system.
“No-one should be detained unless there is evidence that it is absolutely necessary. Asylum seekers are vulnerable people who have frequently been through extremely traumatic experiences. We need to start treating them as such, to avoid a repeat of the terrible story heard by the inquest jurors today.”