British govt's deportation policy comes under attack
London: British Government's deportation
policy has been criticized after the Home Office banned
private security firms from forcing detainees on to flights
following the death of a refugee and then lifted the
moratorium ten days later.
The chairman of the Commons home Affairs select
committee, Keith Vaz, Indian origin Labour MP, said he had
"huge concerns" over the government's apparent indecision
about whether restraint could be used against deportees and
accused officials of "flip-flopping".
His concerns were echoed by Ed Balls, the shadow home
secretary, who said "It is now vital for the home office to
release details of the circumstances surrounding the death of
Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan refugee who collapsed and died on a
British Airways plane preparing for take-off at Heathrow
earlier this month.
A ban on forcing detainees on to commercial flights,
which officials described as a precautionary but
"unprecedented" measure, was introduced on October 15, three
days after Mubenga lost consciousness while being heavily
restrained by three guards working for the security firm G4s.
The Metropolitan police have since arrested the
guards, who have been released on bail.
The ban on the use of force was then lifted on Monday,
after all escort guards were given new written guidance on how
to conduct deportations safely. All escort staff were also
given verbal briefings. The Home Office last night refused to
release the new guidance, claiming it was "operational and
David Wood, the UK Border Agency's strategic director
for criminality and detention, said: "A minimum use of force
is an absolute last resort, and would only ever be used when
an individual becomes disruptive or refuses to comply.
"We did pause the use of restraint at boarding of
scheduled removal flights as a precautionary and temporary
measure. It has now been reinstated."
The department made no mention of the ban in the last
week, despite releasing numerous statements about the use of
force against deportees.
Vaz said his committee would demand that the
information be released to MPs. "It is essential that we have
a clear and consistent policy regarding the force that can be
used during deportations," he said.
The home affairs committee will question Lin Homer,
the chief executive of the UK Border Agency, about guidelines
used by private companies during removals.
"Parliament must be informed as to what force can be
used, what guidelines are issued, and the procedures in place
to ensure the safety of detainees," Vaz said.