How many more people can we exploit for profit? Far too many, it seems:
Jimmy Mubenga died during deportation from the UK, and the first fingers of blame will undoubtedly be pointed at the Home Office-contracted private security firm, G4S. But we need to look at ourselves and ask how we became a society that will now effect deportations by almost any means possible.
Anyone employed as an immigration adviser, as I am, is aware of the use and abuse of state-sanctioned force against immigrants that lies just beneath the Home Office UK Border Agency‘s “firm but fair” rhetoric. I’ll never forget representing a 24-year-old Ugandan woman who was HIV-positive and weighed only six stone, who bravely spoke out to the BBC about her treatment by officers inside Colnbrook immigration removal centre: “Two were holding my arms, two were holding my legs and then they hit my head on the floor,” she said. “I was feeling pain and then they twisted my arms and pressed my head on the bed. “I couldn’t breathe and then I was shouting ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ but they were just twisting it harder.” For his part, Tom Riall, chief executive of the home affairs division of Serco, which runs Colnbrook, said staff there do their jobs “with care and decency and considerable respect for all of those in our charge”. “We only use physical restraint as a last resort,” he added.
The NGO Medical Justice has documented allegations of brutality during immigrants’ detention and removal, while the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture provides a shocking catalogue of injuries sustained by failed asylum seekers on being removed from the UK: “Loss of consciousness; tooth coming loose, bleeding from the mouth; testicular pain; difficulty passing urine; nose bleed, sprained neck from having neck forcibly flexed (head pushed down); bony tenderness over the cheekbone from a punch to the face; abrasion over the cheekbone from being dragged along the ground; lip laceration (splitting) from having head pushed down against the ground; bruising under the jaw and tenderness over the larynx from fingers being pressed to the throat; laceration over the temple from having head banged against hard object …”