Page last updated at 06:16 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 07:16 UK

Assault claims by asylum seekers

An immigration officer checking a passport at a British airport
The allegations include abuse by immigration staff

Almost 300 people have allegedly been abused and beaten by immigration, escort and security staff, a dossier sent to the Home Office claims.

It includes images and descriptions of assaults allegedly carried out in the past four years on failed asylum seekers, in detention or transit.

A group including charities, volunteer groups and lawyers has urged the home secretary to investigate.

The UK Border Agency said the cases would be "reviewed".

The incidents, which allegedly occurred between January 2004 and June 2008, were said to include racial abuse, with injuries allegedly ranging from bruises and swollen faces to fractured ribs, wrists and ankles.

One Congolese man broke his finger after allegedly being restrained at an airport.

We consider the evidence in this report reveals what may amount to state sanctioned violence, for which ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Office
Outsourcing Abuse report

A Nigerian man claimed he had been handcuffed and hit with a baton in front of his children while being detained.

Campaigners say the dossier provides evidence of "widespread" and "systematic" abuse of vulnerable people.

The claims have been detailed in a report by groups involved in legal and medical care of failed asylum-seekers.

The report claims: "This dossier provides evidence of widespread and seemingly systematic abuse of one of the most vulnerable communities of people in our society.

"We consider the evidence in this report reveals what may amount to state-sanctioned violence, for which ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Office."

The report, Outsourcing Abuse, was written by Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns.


As we have always promised, these cases will be now be reviewed and where the details provided allow, investigations will take place

UK Border Agency

Former chief inspector of prisons, Lord David Ramsbotham, who leads to group, said : "(The Home Office) should recognise that our national reputation is not something to be treated lightly or wantonly, and that, if even one of the cases is substantiated, that amounts to something of a preventable national disgrace."

Dr Frank Arnold, a volunteer doctor with Medical Justice, said: "I have seen many serious injuries with long-lasting effects, crushing of nerves at the wrist from forceful pulling on handcuffs, limitation of neck movement by patients whose heads were pushed under aircraft seats, numbness of the face after blows around the cheek and eye."

Most of the assaults are alleged to have taken place as the failed asylum-seekers were transported for deportation.

The people making the allegations came from 41 countries, two-thirds were men and five children were allegedly assaulted, but report authors say the incidents are the "tip of the iceberg".

Researchers gathered data from victims, solicitors, immigration detainees, airline passengers, and medical staff.

Review pledge

A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said: "We have been asking for this information for at least nine months. We are glad that something has finally arrived.

"We will review it and where necessary will refer it to the police."

He said the agency received details of 48 cases on 11 July - "far short of the 200 cases they (originally alleged) to have".

He added: "As we have always promised, these cases will be now be reviewed and where the details provided allow, investigations will take place.

"Of the 89 complaints referred since October 2006 only three were substantiated. Another 10 were partially upheld relating to issues such as rudeness or inefficiency."




SEE ALSO
Race row immigration officer axed
04 Jan 08 |  South Yorkshire
Migrant complaint policy shake-up
14 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
Asylum seekers handcuffed on boat
16 May 07 |  Northern Ireland

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