Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Answers demanded about death of detainee at Oakington

Entrance to Oakington Immigration Reception CentreImage via Wikipedia
Source: Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS)

Deep concerns have been raised by the death of a man in Oakington last week as detainees talk of mistreatment and medical neglect. This is contrary to official reports which are not treating the death as suspicious. Detainees inside the centre have been in contact with Cambridge Migrant Solidarity (CMS) following a solidarity demo by Cambridge residents on Sunday 18th April.

Reports from inside the centre suggest that the Kenyan man who died on Thursday the 15th April was denied medical attention and that he died after an ambulance called by fellow detainees had been turned away from the centre by detention centre staff.

CMS has been told by detainees that disruption inside the centre took place as shocked friends of the man who died tried to prevent his body being removed from the detention centre, fearing a cover-up and demanding that the circumstances surrounding his death, particularly the denial of medical treatment, required independent public investigation. The extent of the protest is unclear, however reports from inside suggest that detainees did not attempt to escape and that guards were not hurt during this incident (this is contrary to Home Office statements). It is said that riot police were called into the centre and that 60 detainees were, in many cases arbitrarily, arrested and/or removed; many were not involved in the protest. Those closest to the dead man were all removed from the centre and cannot now be contacted. CMS have been told that some of those arrested have been taken to prison in Birmingham.

The sister of one of the men reportedly transferred to prison in Birmingham has told CMS that she has not been able to speak with her brother for several days, but has today been told by her brother’s lawyer (who has been in touch with Immigration officials) that her brother is in prison because ‘there is nowhere else for them to go’ and that this is ‘just to calm the situation’ and that ‘they shouldn’t really be there’, the lawyer is demanding the immediate release of this man.

There are reports that during these arrests, some detainees may have been injured by the police, and that some of those arrested and removed had clearly not been involved in the disruption, at least one of those arrested is also known to be extremely vulnerable.

Since then many of those left inside the centre are saying that they have been issued with removal directions (that is they have been told that tickets have been bought for their deportation, and they have been given removal dates, but not told airlines or flight times) despite on-going legal cases. All the guards have been changed and replaced with larger male guards. One of the blocks (Block 20 - arrivals block) has been shut down and is now empty (contradicting claims that ‘there is nowhere else’ for detainees to go).

Detainees have expressed fears in speaking out on this as they risk punishment or jeopardising their cases.

CMS are following on from this by making serious complaints into:
  1. The man’s death on Thursday 15th April.
  2. The wrongful arrests and injuries to those involved in protest and those not involved in protest.
  3. Men issued tickets to leave without time to complete full legal representation and concern for deportation without adequate legal representation of those now detained in prison.
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