The worst case was on 13th June 2017 when everyone removed to Germany was put in restraint from the start, regardless of individual risk assessments. That was an operation arranged under the provisions of the Dublin Convention. The Independent Monitoring Boards Charter Flight Monitoring Team (IMB CFMT) wrote to the Minister on 29th June expressing concern. We were assured in reply that action was being taken to prevent these circumstances arising in the future. However we remain concerned.
Whilst returnees were generally treated fairly on other 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 2017, covering nine charter flight removals to Germany, Lagos, Accra, Islamabad and Tirana, the IMB CFMT found:
- Excessive and ill-judged use of restraints;
- Lack of on the spot oversight by the Home Office;
- Lack of access to professional interpreting services, despite the need;
- Returnees enduring long periods of detention on coaches;
- Returnees being denied dignity and privacy whilst using toilet facilities; and
- Inconsistent access for returnees to the Chief Immigration Officer during the flight.
Chartered 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, except during the operation to Germany. 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”.
Read the report in full here.