TARIK ADAM RAHMA, a victim of torture under the current Khartoum regime has been on hunger strike for 56 days in protest against his indefinite detention. The UK Border Agency’s own guidelines explicitly state that victims of torture cannot be held in detention.
His condition, of deep concern to medical organisations, has worsened due to UKBA failing to provide him with regular attention from a doctor, despite extreme stomach pain and stabbing pains in his chest, as well as back pain from a pre-existing condition.
In his medical report, Medical Justice has stated “This failure to manage him appropriately is very concerning and puts the patient at significant risk. In our opinion Tarik Rahma was not fit for detention at the time we saw him and we are certain that he had not been fit for detention for several days”.
As a non-Arab Darfuri, Tarik is classed by current case law as being at risk of persecution should he be returned to Darfur.
Detention Action said: “A paracetamol cannot cure the scars left by torture in Darfur or the mental anguish that comes from being locked up indefinitely in a detention centre in the UK. The courts have ruled that people with serious mental illnesses were not and cannot be properly looked after in detention centres. And in our experience, almost everyone’s physical and mental health deteriorates while they are in detention. For people with complex mental health issues, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from torture, this deterioration is dramatic.”
Olivia Warham, Waging Peace Director said – “Holding victims of torture in detention is a breach of UKBA’s own guidelines. This man has suffered from torture in Sudan and came to the UK to find safety in asylum. Instead of refuge he has been subjected to further anguish that has severely impacted on his medical condition. The UKBA should adhere to its own guidelines immediately.”
Freedom from Torture report The Second Torture says: “Policy guidance and legislation make clear that individuals who have independent evidence of torture should be released, absent very exceptional circumstances.” The report examined 50 separate cases where a person with ‘medical evidence that accords well with their account of torture’ was held in detention between May 2010 and May 2011. They speak of the “shameful circumstances in which torture survivors are routinely held in immigration detention in the UK”.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: “Concerns about the healthcare provided to asylum seekers in immigration detention are not new and need to be taken seriously. Asylum seekers often face particularly serious physical and mental health problems as a result of their experiences, so it is essential their health needs are addressed while in detention. The government is depriving people of their liberty, and it is a matter of the utmost importance that those people receive the same standard of healthcare that one would expect if living in the community.”
Tarik has removal orders for Thursday 19 July. His solicitor lodged a application for Judicial Review last week, and his removal orders should have been cancelled as a result. Campaigners are concerned that the UK Border Agency have not yet done so and are asking supporters to contact Alitalia airline calling on them to give assurances they will not fly him. There are suspicions that the UK Border Agency knew they would not be able to deport Tarik and issued removal directions ahead of his bail hearing, which had to be cancelled as a result.
1. Ali Abdullah Ahmed also remains in detention at Harmondsworth and on hunger strike. Campaigners are hopeful that legal action will secure his release shortly.
2. The text of the callout sent to supporters of Tarik and Ali reads as follows:
TELL ALITALIA AIRLINES NOT TO DEPORT TARIK, ON HUNGER STRIKE FOR 56 DAYS
The UK Border Agency have issued removal orders for Tarik Adam Rahma, a Darfuri torture survivor judged by Medical Justice as unfit for detention and who has now been on hunger strike for 56 days. Although his solicitor applied for Judicial Review last week and the removal orders should therefore be cancelled, the UKBA has not yet cancelled them and as things stand he will be removed on Thursday morning at 6.50am, flight AZ201 at Heathrow Terminal 4.
Please contact Alitalia, calling on them not to fly Tarik on Thursday. You could tell them that with an outstanding application for Judicial Review, they will be participating in an illegal deportation if they fly Tarik.
You could also tell them that he will be in an incredibly weak state due to his ongoing hunger strike, and that he is not fit to fly. If he should pass out or worse during the flight, his supporters will hold them responsible and consider taking legal action against them.
Ask Alitalia to give written assurances that they will not fly Tarik.
Email: customer.relationsUK@alitalia.it (you may wish to copy in Alitalia’s media team – firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com )
Fax: 0870 2255 088
Tel: 0844 8153649
You may wish to contact the UK Border Agency directly, asking why they have not yet cancelled Tarik’s removal orders and calling on them to release him from detention. Some numbers that have previously worked include: 0208 588 2923 / 0207 035 0195
Model text for emails and faxes (feel free to adapt or write your own):
You may not be aware that a torture survivor from Darfur, Tarik Adam Rhama, is booked on flight AZ201 at 6.50am on Thursday 19 July.
Tarik does not wish to fly. He has been on hunger strike for 56 days as of 18/07/12, and it is unlikely he will be fit to fly. You have a duty of care to all your passengers, and should not fly persons who are in no condition to travel.
Tarik’s solicitor lodged an application for Judicial Review last week; his removal orders should have been cancelled as a result, and he should not be flying. The UKBA have not yet cancelled his removal orders for reasons known only to them; having been made aware of the impending Judicial Review, you should not fly him regardless of the UKBA’s failures.
Aside from the reasons above, Tarik should never have been placed in this situation. He should have been granted asylum at the outset as he is a non-Arab Darfuri, classed by current case law as being at risk should he be returned to Darfur. Returning him to Italy could be the first step to returning him to Darfur, where he will be in severe danger. The reputation of you airline is at risk. Please be aware that should you fly Tarik on Thursday, I will refuse to use Alitalia and encourage my friends and contacts to do likewise.
Please reply confirming that you will not fly Tarik on Thursday.