FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 21 November 2013
Isa Muazu, a refused asylum seeker from Nigeria, has been on hunger strike in Harmondsworth detention centre for over 85 days. His recent application to the High Court to be released failed – despite expert medical evidence in October that he was medically unfit to be detained. As he edges closer to death, the government’s response has been to issue an ‘end of life plan’ for Isa. Today’s application for interim relief was refused and Isa remains in detention. We fear that Isa might not survive until his appeal hearing on 25 November.
The Detention Forum[i] is extremely concerned that Isa may die as a result of a hardened stance being taken towards immigrants and people held in UK detention centres.
Eiri Ohtani, spokesperson for the Detention Forum said:
“It is unacceptable that the Home Office are preparing to allow someone to die on a mattress on the floor of a high security detention centre.
“We understand that Isa Muazu came to this country seeking safety from persecution In Nigeria, where he believes his family have been killed since he fled the country.
“He was detained in prison-like conditions on the same day that he claimed asylum in the UK, even though he has never committed a crime.
“The Home Office have said that they are determined to turn the UK into a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants, but allowing people to die in immigration detention goes well beyond ‘hostile’.
“We call on the Home Secretary to release Isa Muazu from detention immediately, and to seek community-based alternatives to holding people detention that are cheaper and fairer.”
UK is one of the few countries in Europe which practices detention without a timelimit. As of 31 December 2012, 2,685 people were in detention in immigration removal centres[ii]. Of those, 31% (822) were in detention longer than 3 months, 14% (375) were in detention longer than 6 months and 5% (134) had been in detention longer than one year. 62% (1,676) of those were asylum-seekers. These figures exclude those held in prisons as immigration detainees, understood to be nearly 1,000 people[iii], grossly underestimating the scale of immigration detention in the UK.
UK regularly detains vulnerable individuals for the purpose of immigration control. Over the last two years, the UK’s Home Office has also been found to have breached detained individuals’ human right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of European Convention of Human Rights) on four separate occasions[iv].
Notes to the Editor
[i] The Detention Forum is a coalition of support and campaigning groups for people in immigration detention.
[ii] The numbers denote those entering Immigration Removal Centres and Short Term Holding Centres. The figures exclude those held under Immigration Act powers in prisons. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/immigration-asylum-research/immigration-tabs-q4-2012/?view=Standard&pubID=1156263 See dt.09.q of Detention data tables Immigration Statistics October to December 2012 Volume 2.
[iv] R (S) v Secretary of State of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2120 (Admin) (5 August 2011); R (BA) v Secretary of State of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2748 (Admin) (26 October 2011); R (HA) v Secretary of State of State for the Home Department  EWHC 979 (Admin) (17 April 2012); D v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2012) EWHC 2501 (Admin)
Eiri Ohtani, The Co-ordinator, The Detention Forum