Tag Archives: forced removal

Letter to the Oxford Times

Dear Sir,

Recent tragic events in Lampedusa caused international concern when hundreds of migrants were drowned. The instability in their countries has driven people to risk making perilous journeys towards Europe, often in vessels that are entirely unsafe.

At last humanitarian issues and the needs of these migrants are being acknowledged.

But look closer to home, to Oxfordshire.

You may have noticed reporting of the fire at Campsfield House IRC, (Immigration Removal Centre) near Kidlington, on Friday night. People are locked up there, often for months, years in some cases, prior to being removed or deported. There is no time limit. The distress, depression, loss of hope and despair detainees go through is well documented. Their detention is purely administrative, for the convenience of the Home Office. Human rights are ignored to make the statistics look ‘good’, regardless of what happens when they are sent back. Many have had no legal representation, have never had their case properly heard, are not believed.

Between January and June this year 52 detainees attempted suicide and 251 self harmed across the whole estate. These figures are the worst ever recorded.

Hostility not humanity is the attitude encouraged by Teresa May in her recent speech in the House of Commons, introducing the new Immigration Bill. Her words encouraged xenophobia and fear and hatred of migrants who come here to escape persecution or in some cases to get work, often to send money home to enable their families to survive.

How is it that this and other IRCs remain open, at enormous expense to the tax payer and often irreparable human cost to the detainees, without appearing to be to be a matter of public shame or even debate? Are we not concerned?

Gill Baden (Campaign to Close Campsfield)


UKBA breaching own guidelines on detention of torture victims ~Sudanese man’s hunger strike reaches 56 days ~ PLEASE CONTACT AIRLINE TODAY TO STOP DEPORTATION TOMORROW

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:


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 – zivillica.antonella@alitalia.it; mangone.valentina@alitalia.it; sanguinetti.paolo@alitalia.it; speranza.giovanna@alitalia.it )

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):

Dear Alitalia

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.

Yours sincerely


Immigration Detention in the UK: Evidence submitted to the Universal Periodic Review


Evidence submitted to

the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Universal Periodic Review (United Kingdom) by

the Campaign to Close Campsfield (CCC) and Barbed Wire Britain Network to End Refugee and Migrant Detention



1 Our main concern is the great increase in immigration detention in the UK, from some 100 places in the early 1990s to over 3,000 today. As of June 2011, the UK ‘detention estate’ stood at 3,428 bed spaces. The detention estate does not include prisons, police cells and ‘short term holding facilities’ where, at any one time, hundreds of people are held under 1971 Immigration Act powers.[i]

2 We believe that private companies, motivated by personal financial gain, have largely driven this expansion.[ii] It is matter of concern that an ever-increasing proportion (currently over 75% of places) of immigration detention centres in the UK are run by companies such as GEO (Global Expertise in Outsourcing alias Wackenhutt), Kalyx (a Sodexho subsidiary), GSL (Global Solutions Ltd), Group 4/Securicor, Premier Custodial Group Ltd (a Serco subsidiary), and Mitie.

3 Our main concern is based on a conviction that it is against the human rights of those detained to lock up innocent people without charge for an indefinite period without judicial oversight and without proper reasons given in writing, and without proper access to legal representative. The increasing use of ‘administrative detention’ is also prejudicial to the human rights of everyone in the country.

4 None of those held in detention under Immigration Act powers is in detention because they are serving time for a custodial sentence following a criminal conviction. That is, almost all those detained are innocent of any crime. In the small minority of cases where the immigration detainee has previously been convicted of crime and paid the penalty of a prison sentence, they have already served all their prison time and should no longer be held. (It should be noted that parliament had in recent years enacted law by which it is a ‘crime’ to travel into, work or live in the UK without the ‘correct’ immigration documents approved by the government.)

5 The lack of time limit on immigration detention in the UK means that many people are detained for months, some for years: there are cases of people being detained under Immigration Act powers for up to 8 years.[iii]

6 Such detention without time limit may be argued to be mental torture. We have strongly argued this in submissions to international human rights bodies.[iv] Medical studies by psychologists and psychiatrists support this point.[v] We believe human rights organisations should pay more attention to this aspect of detention.

7 A convicted criminal in the UK knows when he/she may be released. An immigration detainee does not. This is just one example of a way in which an immigration detainee (who is innocent of any crime) is treated worse than a convicted criminal. This is wrong.

8 The UK government fails even to follow its own guidelines on detention with regard to
a)     who should not be detained (victims of torture, pregnant women, children or minors are not infrequently detained) ;
b)    detention being used only as a last resort (it is clear that in many cases alternatives to detention have not been properly considered: this frequently becomes clear in bail hearings or court action against the UK Boarder Agency) ; and
c)     detention being used only when ‘deportation is ‘imminent’: in many cases where the Home Office argues that the person is about to be deported there is no prospect of the necessary documentation being obtained within the foreseeable future, e.g. four weeks.

9 The prevailing ‘culture of disbelief’ and lack of respect for migrants and asylum seekers in the UK Border Agency’s dealings is manifest in the well documented verbal and physical abuse of immigration detainees, in detention and particularly during deportation. The family of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who died at the hands of private company G4S guards on board a British Airways flight at Heathrow last year, is still seeking justice: neither the company nor individuals have been charged with a criminal offence. An extensive dossier on physical abuse and assaults on deportees and detainees was published in 2008.[vi]

10 In detention in the UK, detainees are pressurised (through boredom, financial incentive, seeking to please authorities) to work for 50 pence an hour in kitchen, cleaning and other jobs in the detention centre. This cynical cost-cutting exercise by the private companies who thus profit from the ‘slave labour’ flouts UK Minimum Wage law, and is a gross exploitation of people who are in a very vulnerable situation. The practice has been condemned by trade union and other organsiations in the UK.[vii]

11 Until a detainee has his/her immigration status resolved or asylum application finalized, there is only one way he/she can obtain their natural liberty: by convincing an ‘immigration judge’ at an immigration bail hearing in one of the 12 courts across the UK of the First Tier of the Tribunals Service (Immigration and Asylum) that the Home Office is not justified in detaining him/her. Extensive studies have shown that these bail hearings amount in many case to no more than a travesty of justice.[viii]

12 In these hearings the ‘immigration judge’ (who faces much lower entrance qualification requirements than for judges in other courts of the UK) is often seen not to be impartial, the Home Office representative being treated leniently while the bail applicant (the detainee) is frequently not properly treated. This is well documented in the study Immigration Bail Hearings: A Travesty of Justice referred to in the note above. The following is the account of one detainee of his bail hearing:

          “This judge completely ignored the ethical requirement of the profession that gives no room for any partiality between the contending parties. He addresses me uncaring of  the consequences of his utterances. The hatred he has for me was so manifest. He was blunt in his approach and he was openly prejudiced towards me. I felt so humiliated by his actions.

           “He reacted stating that his advice for me was to withdraw all my judicial review claims and get on the plane to Nigeria if I do not want to continue suffering myself in detention. He said I’m the one suffering myself and he could not help my situation unless I help myself by getting on the plane to Nigeria. He never commented on my medications and condition in particular but concluded that the onus is on me to save myself the pain of detention.”

(Extract of complaint from Abiola Ayobola, 28 July 2011, then a           detainee at Campsfield “House”, about his bail hearing held via video link.)

13 In June 2010 the incoming coalition government of the UK promised to end detention of children. This has not happened. It obviously should. But in September 2011 the government opened a new family and children detention centre at Pease Pottage in Sussex, naming it ‘The Cedars’.[ix]

14 There are serious concerns about the quality of medical care available to immigration detainees. Access to health care in detention centres is subject to considerations of profit, which is not the case for the general public in the UK and should not be for those in detention.

15 It is our belief that the gradual creation of “Fortress Europe” not only in the UK but in EU and buffer countries to the east and on North Africa is not only unjust but unsustainable. Serious attention to the above concerns will show that to be the case.

16 Quite apart from the above, which we trust the Universal Periodical Review will address, the Campaign to Close Campsfield also believes that the following is necessary:

Close Campsfield, other detention centres, and detention wings in prisons;
Stop immigration detentions and imprisonment;
Stop racist deportations;
Repeal immigration laws which reinforce racism.

20 November 2011


[i] Website of Freemovement, 4 June 2011.

[ii] Christine Bacon (2005) The Evolution of Immigration Detention in the UK: The Involvement of Private Prison Companies, working paper 27, Refugee Studies Centre Oxford

[iii] Detained Lives: The real cost of indefinite immigration detention, London Detainee Support Group, 2009.

[iv] Causing Mental Illness Is Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, submission to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, from Barbed Wire Britain Network to End Refugee and Migrant Detention, September 2008.

[v] 1. Warehousing: inventory of refugee rights. 2005. Washington DC: US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 2005.
2 Silove D, Steel Z, Watters C. “Policies of deterrence and the mental health of asylum seekers”. JAMA 2000;284: 604-11.
Sultan A, O’Sullivan K. “Psychological disturbances in asylum seekers held in long term detention: a participant-observer account”. Med J Aust 2001;175: 593-6.
3 Mares S, Newman L, Dudley M, Gale F. “Seeking refuge, losing hope: parents and children in immigration detention”. Aust Psych 2002;10: 91-6.
4 Steel Z, Momartin S, Bateman C, Hafshejani A, Silove D. “Psychiatric status of asylum seeker families held for a protracted period in a remote detention centre in Australia”. Aust N Z J Pub Health 2004;28: 527-36.
5 Palmer M. Inquiry into the circumstances of the immigration detention of Cornelia Rau. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2005.
6 Amnesty International. UK: Seeking asylum is not a crime: Detention of people who have sought asylum. London: Amnesty International, 2005.
7 Fazel M, Stein A. “UK immigration law disregards the best interests of children”. Lancet 2004;363: 1749-50.
8 McCleish J, Cutler S, Stancer C. A crying shame: pregnant asylum seekers and their babies in detention. London: Maternity Alliance, Bail for Immigration Detainees and London Detainee Support Group, 2002.
9 Salinsky M, Dell S. Protection not prison: torture survivors detained in the UK. London: Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, 2001
10 Porter M, Haslam N. “Predisplacement and postdisplacement factors associated with mental health of refugees and internally displaced persons: a meta-analysis”. JAMA 2005;294: 602-12.
11 Mina Fazel and Derrick Silove (2006), “Detention of Refugees”, British Medical Journal, 332: 251-252 (4 February)
12 Derrick Silove (2000), “Policies of Deterrence and the Mental Health of Asylum Seekers”, Journal of The American Medical Association, 284, 5, 604-611 (2 August)
13 Derrick Silove, Patricia Austin and Zachary Steel (2007), “No Refuge from Terror: The Impact of Detention on the Mental Health of Trauma-affected Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia”, Transcultural Psychiatry, 44, 3, 359-393. August 2, 2000 Vol. 284

[vi] Outsourcing Abuse: The use and misuse of state-sanctioned force during thr detention and removal of asylum seekers, Birnberg Peirce, Medical Justice, and National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns, 2008.

[vii] Slave wages at Campsfield – statement by Oxford Trades Union Council, Campsfield Monitor, 2008.

[viii] A Nice Judge on a Good Day: Immigration Bail and the Right to Liberty, Bail for Immigration Detainees, 2009;Immigration Bail Hearings: A Travesty of Justice? Observations from the Public Gallery, Campaign to Close Campsfield Bail Observation Project, 2011.

URGENT: Stop them deporting Babi Badalov

Poet and artist Babi Badalov is in Campsfield this evening, to be removed to Azerbaijan from Heathrow ON SATURDAY EVENING, at 8pm, on Azerbaijan Airways flight J20008. Babi was suddenly re-detained this week in Cardiff, where he has made a huge impression on the arts scene and among human-rights and gay-rights groups. Continue reading


During the next few days, meetings are taking place among Kurdish refugee groups in Sweden and Switzerland as well as the UK, to try to halt forced repatriations to Northern Iraq. Continue reading

Hunger-strike background: “deaths after deportation” report

THE CURRENT HUNGER STRIKE in Campsfield was triggered by yet another death of a refugee, after forced removal by HM Government to the “safety” of Northern Iraq. Continue reading