On 11 January an unnamed 27-year-old Polish man was found dead in Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, the first death this year and the 29th death in immigration detention since 1989.
It was reported by the Unity Centre that the man was found hanged in his room at the centre. He had apparently been refused bail before Christmas as there was no surety and his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the hearing, was unable to travel. Their baby was apparently born on the day of his death. Morton Hall, unlike most other removal centres, is run by the Home Office rather than a private company.
Of the three people who died in immigration detention last year, one died at Morton Hall, just six weeks ago, on 6 December. According to the Unity Centre, the 49-year-old man, possibly from Sierra Leone, who had been in the UK for 27 years, had served a six-month sentence for using false documents and had subsequently been in immigration detention for two years. A few days before his death he had become ill and was taken to hospital and later died.
And just a few days earlier, on 1 December, 54-year-old Tarek Chowdhury was murdered in Colnbrook immigration removal centre in west London (run by Mitie). 31-year-old Zana Assad Yusif was later charged with his murder.
Amir Siman-Tov, a Moroccan was found dead at Colnbrook in February, after apparently being on suicide watch, which required guards to check him every fifteen minutes.
There have been twenty-nine deaths in immigration removal centres since 1989; three women and the rest men. Harmondsworth detention centre accounts for eight deaths; five people have died at Colnbrook; three at Yarl’s Wood and Morton Hall and two each at Campsfield, Haslar and The Verne. One person has died at each of the detention centres Dungavel, Dover, Oakington (now closed) and Pennine House (a short-term holding facility). Read the IRR’s list of: UK Deaths in immigration detention: 1989-2017.
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) has called a national demonstration against deaths in immigration detention on Saturday 11 March, see further details on their Facebook page or download the call out here (pdf file, 87kb).
Download the IRR’s report Dying for Justice here (includes a section on deaths in immigration detention)