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State Sanctioned Child Abuse

rhedize | 19.12.2004 15:13 | Migration | Cambridge

State Sanctioned Child Abuse
Continues Throughout Christmas

More torrid tales of Immigration abuses

Private Prison Contractor
Private Prison Contractor

I have been writing recently about what I have seen and heard in regard to the treatment of Luis, Lina & Miguel (8) by the Immigration Service and Global Solutions/Group 4/Wackenhut private prisons.

I have been writing down my accounts of the family's treatment as I am unable to comprehend the inhumanity with which this family have been treated having come to this country claiming asylum some 3 ½ years ago.

On Thursday 16th December I travelled to London to act as surety for some good friends of Lina & Miguel who they met whilst imprisoned at Oakington Barracks. Again, I am unable to get my head around the way we treat our fellow beings under the cover of 'immigration control', hence this further account.

I'd rather not name the family here as they are still under the control of the immigration prison and I do not want to mark them out for further abuse. However, the family have told me that, although they have no hope for any change to their own circumstances, they would like me to post these details in the hope that it could help to protect other families in the future. They are a couple from India who came to this country from the Punjab about 2 ½ years ago, they now have a two year old son who was born in this country.

I do not know the family well enough to have been told the details of their personal circumstances. I do not know if they are here because they were persecuted or simply because they were poor. Such considerations are, as ever, down to the family and whatever bureaucratic apparatus that investigates such matters.

I do know that they have been in prison since 1st November, 49 days so far. They were told in early November that they would have a bail hearing, but would have to wait 20 days.

The family were required to be in court for 10 a.m. The prison contractors failed to transport the family, only the father was picked up and he wasn't delivered to the court till 3.30 p.m. When the hearing finally started the bail surety that had been arranged was not present and bail was therefore refused. The family's hopes were dashed and they were herded back into Block 2, Oakington Barracks (Immigration 'Reception' Centre !?!).

If you've read any of the accounts of Lina & Miguel's imprisonment (, you won't need me to elaborate on the piss poor treatment inmates get in these private prisons. Rest assured that the mental cruelty endured by people incarcerated under this system is enough to shame anybody with one iota of compassion who finances and sanctions such deplorable treatment every time they pay their taxes.

There has been a recognised viral outbreak at the prison for some time now with other child prisoners suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. Lina's 8 year old son, Miguel was refused a doctor for at least 24 hours when he first became ill shortly after being transported to Oakington. The authorities informed Miguel's head mistress that a doctor visited the prison 3 times a week and the sick could only be seen then, outside of these visits the only medical care provided to the 300 odd inmates was a prison nurse.

For the best part of their stay, courtesy of the Immigration Service, the couple's two year old has been very ill. Apart from the peculiar changes in his behaviour, the child has been unable to digest food properly, vomiting and shitting aal he eats, he has lost approx. 2 kilos in weight (2 year old's don't have that many kilos to spare). The child's complexion is distinctly pale and visitors have noted how much discomfort he appears to be in.

Various doctor's have been seeing the child but have now apologised to the family as they are unable to make him better. The last doctor told the parents that if they came to him under normal circumstances he would recommend they take their son to a hospital to be seen by a paediatrician and undergo the necessary tests to ensure his recovery. The doctor also told the family that, as they are prisoners, he was unable to insist on this treatment.

This was around the time I got to know the family. My friends, who were also imprisoned, made good friends with them and told me about their predicament. I met them on two occasions and found out that they had another bail hearing on Thursday 16th December. They had two people offering surety but I offered my support as a back up. The idea of them pinning all their hopes of freedom, however temporary, and well being on ten minutes in front of an Immigration adjudicator only to have a surety miss their bus and not turn up was too great a risk.

These people seem like good people, they have committed no crime except that of living in a country that doesn't want them to be here. I have only seen them with the haunted, hopeless expressions which most people in an Immigration prison seem to have. Having endured 40 odd days of incarceration and uncertainty, I felt obliged to make the trip to London to support the family's application for bail.

All transport was on time and complete on the Thursday morning. Unfortunately, the solicitor was told that the Immigration Service had managed to secure all the travel documents necessary to deport the three family members. From professionals in the field, it would seem to be common practice for paperwork to be rushed through before certain stages of the legal process take place. When someone has a bail hearing coming up, it is not uncommon for the deportation process to be speeded up to pre-empt any possible release(for Luis, Lina & Miguel it seems that the lodging of papers by the family's solicitor prompted the pre dawn raid and immediate deportation threats against them).

The effect of this bureaucratic move by the Immigration Service, allowed the 'prosecutor' to state that the family's deportation was imminent and therefore bail was not necessary. 'Imminent' means that it'll be sorted out within a month, no dates given, just the promise that the family will not have to be in prison longer than
16th January - a total of 77 days.

Again, completely ignoring Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons report in 2004 that made five recommendations to the Director General of the Immigration & Nationality Directorate. The first of which was:
"detaining children should be an exceptional measure and only for a few days"

The adjudicator seemed like a nice enough bloke, despite a couple of cringeworthy quips about the fact there must be telephones in Nigeria (previous hearing) and why should Indians need a translator.

However, The Hon Charles Vaudin D'Imecourt* was not swayed by the family's solicitor stating her concerns over the well being of the couple's two year old child. The solicitor had worked at Oakington and knew what the conditions were like, unfortunately the adjudicator scoffed at the suggestion that the child would not receive adequate treatment, despite the fact the child had been ill for so long. D'Imecourt said he couldn't imagine that the health care provision was inadequate at Oakington and insisted there must be very good 24 hour health care at the prison. To verify this claim, D'imecourt called on the expert knowledge of the Group 4 van driver who was hanging round having transported the prisoners to court, a gangly youth dwarfed in his ill fitting uniform who stood up and embarrassingly nodded in agreement with the adjudicator's assertions.

D'Imecourt seemed to have made up his mind to refuse the family's bail application before proceedings began. He repeatedly stated that they had absconded during the two years they lived in London, hastily correcting himself by saying they had only "successfully melted into the community". No consideration was paid to the fact that the family had voluntarily presented themselves to the Immigration Service and had repeatedly kept appointments when required.

The adjudicator insisted that, in his opinion, if the family were granted bail they would run away and he assured the family that their child would actually be better off in prison than outside - I very much doubt if he has spent much time in a private prison with his children.

The child's parents were quiet and polite throughout the proceedings. Mum tried her best to comfort her crying child, Dad listened to his interpreter intently and confirmed he understood what was being said to him. It was only after the judge pronounced his judgement that Dad made a heartfelt plea to D'Imecourt as the family were being led back to the prison transport, promising to abide by any bail restrictions, no matter how punitive. D'Imecourt became preoccupied with his paperwork and wouldn't meet anyone's eyes while the young family were led away.

The family were broken a long time ago, their spirit has been crushed and they have no hope. Mum has been on suicide watch during her prison term, son is ill and I cannot imagine what happens in the head of a father who is powerless to assuage his family's suffering. The family believe they have no chance of being allowed to stay in this country yet they still want their information to be known in the hope that other families are not forced to endure similarly sickening treatment.

This family and all the others imprisoned at Oakington need our support, especially as they enter the festive season, in prison and in uncertainty.

Merry Xmas !

* The Hon Charles Vaudin D'Imecourt.

May be the same D'Imecourt who was Chief Justice of Vanuatu (Vanuatu ?! - "a group of 83 islands in the South West Pacific", "The international offshore finance centre infrastructure of Vanuatu has long been a favourite of investors").

May be the same D'Imecourt who signed "Evidence submitted by a Group of London Immigration Adjudicators (AIA 42)", stating:
1 Too many Home Office decisions are of indifferent quality, poorly reasoned and inadequately engage with the evidence of the applicant.
2 Hence the hearing before an Immigration Adjudicator, whilst constitutionally an appeal, too often represents the first reasoned consideration of an appellant's case.
Gets a browny point from me here!

As with all other participants in the Immigration Service, I imagine Charles may be a fairly decent fellow. Unfortunately, the system he helps administer is intrinsically evil - you cannot imprison non criminals and children and still call yourself civilised. We know about such apparent contradictions from darker times in our history and in our world. We also know that it must be stamped out at the earliest opportunity.

The Rev. Martin Niemoller wrote a poem in 1945 that we could all do with remembering.

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Hide the following 5 comments

contact details

19.12.2004 18:34

Please send letters / cards of support to:
Anoop, Monica and Sidhaant (2 years)
Block 2
Room 42/A
Oakington Office
Oakington Barracks
Nr Cambridge

Mary, sounds like you're talking out of your arse,
but that's freedom of speech I suppose ;-)

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19.12.2004 18:38

family name is Arora (Anoop, Monica & Sidhaant)

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I say remove the bunch of fildth from dover docks (thats the pigs)...

20.12.2004 22:48

...asap...they give me the creeps. As do you Mary.

Cymru Tribal Soverignty!

(get it british morons?)

Blessed be,

King Amdo.

King Amdo


24.12.2004 10:19

Why are their difficulties in obtaining documentation for travel?

Heartless Bastard

Heartless B'stard Reply

30.12.2004 11:30

Hello HB,

problems getting travel documents, legal documents, immigration documents, food vouchers, etc. are just part of working through a process with the Immigration Service / Home Office, logistically there are cock-ups a plenty and the process is arbitrary by design.

At the best of times, a government ministry that knows it's arse from it's elbow is a rarity. In the case of immigrants, the government are under no obligation to treat the people they process with any respect - I think the prisons they operate are exempt from any 'duty of care' regulations in terms of the treatment of children. These people are labelled 'illegal' and this seems to preclude the necessity of treating them with any consideration or dignity.

The result is that immigrants are arrested / imprisoned / shuttled around the country and generally treated with contempt by their captors with no concern for the damage this does to the adults and children who we label as "Illegal People".

If a mother and baby are told to pack their bags ready for deportation at 4 o'clock in the morning, driven round the SE all day, missing their flight and being taken back to prison, no one will bat an eyelid. The mum might be traumatised (especially after this happens 4 times), the baby might be sick, but what do Group 4 or the Immigration Service care?

There are a hundred and one excuses for such logistical mishaps. 'Short staffed' is always a useful excuse, especially when you're a profit making enterprise with a responsibility to your share holders - I would've thought it's part of working practice to be short staffed in order to keep those dividends rolling in. GSL have a responsibility to their customers (Home Office, NOT prisoners) and their shareholders, 'undesirables' don't feature.

couple of top GSL quotes from their web site:

"Our commitment to corporate citizenship is closely allied to our commitment to delivering shareholder value." Anders Wallin.

GSL Corporate Responsibility Statement (hands up if you think this is an oxymoron ?!)

"We are firm supporters of good corporate citizenship policy and practice. We recognise that companies have a positive role to play in developing a society that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." - oh good! Wackenhut, GSL & Group4 are helping develop society, into what ?!

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