Agency responds to Jimmy Mubenga’s death

Any lawyer with experience of detention centre work in the immigration field will be familiar with the term “IRC”. This acronym stands for the rather obnoxious term Immigration Removal Centre. The security company G4S is responsible for “running” these “facilities” which are like Hotel California: meaning you can check out any time you want if you agree to be “removed” but you really can “never leave” without the help of a skilled lawyer.

Recently the private security firm G4S allowed an Angolan man to die after he collapsed while being deported from Britain last week. He was forty six year old Jimmy Mubenga who died while on BA77 to Angola. The matter has been reported in the press and is the source of wide ranging scandal.

Subsequently, Lin Homer, the UKBA chief executive, had agreed to answer questions in relation to the events surrounding Jimmy Mubenga‘s death. Her answers would also address the wider issue of the use of restraint during immigration deportations.

G4S,  has also, of course, agreed to cooperate with MPs as three of its escort officers have been arrested over the deportation. From personal experience one can really say that it is about time this happened as one G4S employee informed me on a recent visit to represent someone in Brook House IRC that he worked as a baggage handler and working in the IRC was the only job around. Clearly, such people have no training in acting in a matter as important as detention.

Mubenga, 46, died after losing consciousness on BA flight 77 and the Guardian reported that four passengers witnessed three escort officers heavily restraining Mubenga, who had consistently complained about his breathing!

The Guardian stated that:

“According to the witnesses, Mubenga was handcuffed and sitting between two guards at the rear of the aircraft. They kept him restrained in his seat as he began shouting and seeking to resist deportation.

“The passengers, who were sitting nearby, reported Mubenga shouting “I can’t breathe” before finally passing out.

“Police and paramedics were called when Mubenga lost consciousness, and the aircraft, which had been due to take off, returned to the terminal.The UK Border Agency has responded today to the Guardian newspaper following their publication of footage of an illegal immigrant being returned to their home country.

For the UKBA enforced returns “are a vital part of a viable immigration policy, which relies on the government’s ability to enforce the return of those with no legal right to be in the UK who refuse to leave voluntarily”. Now the real question is how many times have the UKBA violated ECHR rights of detainees? The answer is very unpleasant but will be updated in this space. Disproportionate force does have the resonance of truth where the UKBA and its private contractors are concerned.

From the purview of the legal practitioner this is far from the case in reality.

In quite a feeble attempt to review and perhaps cover up the cruel way in which the system for detention and removal works in UK immigration law Dave Wood, strategic director, criminality and detention for the Agency, stated that:

‘We take any allegation of mistreatment by our contractors extremely seriously. We will look at this footage carefully.

‘According to the contractor’s records, the detainee had become violent and non-compliant before the flight took off and trained escorts took the decision to use restraint in line with agreed procedures. A previous attempted removal had already failed due to his disruptive and violent behaviour.

‘He was accompanied on the flight by medics who examined him during the flight and found no injuries as a result of the restraint. No complaint was ever received from him, his legal representatives, the airline or any passenger on the flight following this removal more than a year ago.’

From the purview of the legal practitioner this is far from the case in reality.

About Asad Ali Khan, BA, MSc, MA, LL.B (Hons), LL.M

Senior Partner, Khan & Co, Barristers-at-Law
This entry was posted in Asylum, Cases, Dependants, Detention, ECHR, G4S, Immigration Law, Immigration Rules, Private Prisons, Refugee Convention, Settlement, UKBA and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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