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Deaths at detention centres

There have been three deaths at UK’s immigration detention centres in the past month, two in three days, highlighting a serious break down of duty of care by security staff, and the mental health impact on immigration detention.

A man being held at the Campsfield immigration removal centre near Oxford (believed to be John Yohona from Moldova) who was about to be deported killed himself according to fellow inmates, on the morning of Tuesday 2nd August at the privately run detention centre. He was said to be agitated and anxious after being intimidated by staff on his imminent removal.

Campsfield is a profiting making facility run by American GEO Group where detainees are held behind a twenty-foot high razor-wire topped fence, monitored throughout by surveillance cameras, and friends and relatives wishing to visit are searched before passing through five separate remote-controlled doors.

Previously on 2nd July Muhammad Shuket was reported dead in Colnbrook detention centre situated near Heathrow Airport, and another detainee believed to be a Mr. Dalrypic died on Sunday morning, 31st July also at Colnbrook. The Home Office initially claimed he died of ‘natural causes’ but fellow detainees told campaigners he committed suicide after becoming “very distressed.”

Inmates at Campsfield which holds 200 asylum seekers and political refugees escaping persecution have staged a number of protests in the past over conditions at the centre and the policy of indefinite detention and forced returns. Last year there was a mass hunger strike by over half the detainees in protest at their treatment and the forced deportation of asylum seekers. In 2005 Kurdish teenager, Ramazan Kumluca, killed himself after spending more than four months in Campsfield.

A spokesperson for the Campaign of Close Campsfield said “We hope it will make the government think about entirely scrapping their brutal and inhuman practice of detaining immigrants”.

UK detention centres are big business now earning private companies millions in security and dentition. The industry is expanding in capacity with the opening of converted prison Morton Hall earlier in the summer, and on 30th July activists from Croydon, Brighton, London and elsewhere gathered in Hayward Heath, Sussex, to protest against the opening of a new detention centre for migrants in nearby Pease Pottage. The detention centre (euphemistically known as “pre-departure accommodation”) will focus on detaining families prior to being forcibly removed. G4S will run the centre even though they are currently under investigation for the corporate manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga.

The campaign group Medical Justice said the deaths had heightened concern about the poor healthcare on offer to those being kept in UK detention centres: “Medical Justice has documented the disturbingly inadequate healthcare provision that often vulnerable immigration detainees are subjected to in Colnbrook and other immigration removal centres”

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This article originally appeared in the #7216 edition of Freedom newspaper see here
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