Enforced removal of people from the UK on chartered flights continues to involve excessive use of restraints on some
The worst cases, according to the report, were operations arranged under the provisions of the Dublin Convention, where people applying for asylum are transferred to the EU member state responsible for dealing with their claim. As last year, The Independent Monitoring Board Charter Flight Monitoring Team (IMB CFMT) remains concerned.
Whilst returnees were generally treated fairly on charter flights removing them from the UK, some aspects of enforced removal continue to fall short of humane treatment according to the IMB CFMT.
In its annual report for 2018, covering nine charter flight removals to Albania, France, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan and Switzerland, the IMB CFMT found:
- No evidence that Dublin Convention returnees had been properly prepared for removal from the UK;
- Ill-judged use of restraints in some cases;
- Lack of on-the-spot oversight by the Home Office;
- Lack of consistent access to professional interpreting services, despite some returnees needing the information about their departure to be translated;
- Returnees enduring long periods of confinement on coaches;
- Returnees being denied dignity and privacy whilst using toilet facilities.
The team expressed particular concern about the lack of forward planning for a woman with epilepsy and brain injury who was being removed to Islamabad and was left to disembark with very little support for her onward journey.
Charter Flight Monitoring Team leader, Lou Lockhart-Mummery, said:
“It is important to have independent monitors present during the removal process to observe whether the returnees are treated fairly and with humanity during a stressful experience. The escorts generally behaved professionally and respectfully. The new escorting contractor introduced some positive changes. Over the year we observed some aspects of good practice.
“However, we consider that the approach would be greatly improved if the dignity of the individual returnee was acknowledged in all aspects of the removal process on the day and if the use of force or restraint was consistently based on a well-judged individual risk assessment and was continually reviewed”.
Information for Editors:
- The CFMT is appointed on an administrative, non-statutory basis by agreement with the Secretary of State for The Home Department. Its remit is to monitor and report on the conditions and treatment of returnees removed on charter flights, from the point where they are transferred to the escorts’ custody at the Immigration Removal Centre to the point of hand-over to local officials at the overseas destination. The CFMT is composed of members of Independent Monitoring Boards of Prisons, Immigration Removal Centres and non-residential Short-Term Holding Facilities, who are unpaid public appointees.
- The Dublin Convention determines which European Union member state is responsible for considering an asylum claim. It permits member states to transfer an asylum applicant to the state responsible. These enforced removals from the UK were managed by the Third Country Removal Unit of the Home Office.