Update – Isa Muazu
10:30am 25 November 2013
Today the court will decide whether, Isa Muazu, an immigration detainee, who has been hunger-striking over 90 days in Harmondsworth detention centre, should be released from detention.
Isa Muazu, a refused asylum seeker from Nigeria, has been hunger striking since the end of August. He says that he is protesting against the Home Office’s treatment of his asylum claim.
Rev. Lord Roberts of Llandudno organised a joint-letter to the Home Secretary, requesting Muazu’s release from Harmondsworth. Although the letter has been signed by over 40 peers and MPs, Theresa May is yet to respond.
The Detention Forum remains extremely concerned that Muazu may die as a result of a hardened stance being taken towards immigrants and people held in UK detention centres.
Today’s appeal hearing is the latest of the series of legal challenges against Muazu’s continued detention. The initial court hearing on 14 October ruled against releasing him from detention, however the court agreed to hear an appeal. On Thursday 21 November, there was a further interim relief hearing to consider Isa’s release pending the final hearing of the appeal. This was again refused by the court. The judges however decided to expedite the case.
Eiri Ohtani, spokesperson for the Detention Forum said:
“We are alarmed by the Home Office’s disregard for life and health of Isa Muazu. We are also concerned that other migrants who go on to hunger strike out of desperation and distress will be treated in the same inhumane manner. 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 or in handcuffs on an airplane surrounded by security guards.
“We understand that Isa 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 centres or when they are bundled onto flights goes well beyond ‘hostile’.
“We call on the Home Secretary to release Isa from detention immediately, and to seek community-based alternatives to holding people detention that are cheaper and fairer.”
Isa Muazu was detained on 25 July 2013 when he claimed asylum. An ‘end of life plan’ was drawn up by Harmondsworth healthcare on 14 November when his condition deteriorated.
Notes to editors.
UK is one of the few countries in Europe which practices detention without a time limit. As of 31 December 2012, 2,685 people were in detention in immigration removal centres[i]. 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[ii], 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[iii].
[i] 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.
[iii] 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