FIRST DEATH IN DETENTION 2017 / 3rd DEATH IN 5 WEEKS

FIRST DETENTION CENTRE DEATH FOR 2017

Just a month following the two deaths in immigration detention centres (Morton Hall and Colnbrook) in December 2016 another death has occurred at Morton Hall. This time by suicide on Wednesday 11th January 2017.

morton hall protest

Detainees currently at Morton Hall report the man as ‘young and quiet, never causing any trouble’. He spent his time watching TV, playing games and at the Gym. They say the atmosphere at the centre are ‘very low and people are sick and tired of the place’. Speaking to ex-detainee friends of The Unity Centre the mood is also low, no one is surprised at yet another death but anger levels are high as suicides and deaths within the detention estates continue at what seems to be an increasing rate.

What has been reported to The Unity Centre by detainees held in Morton Hall is that it is believed the man was found around 12noon Wednesday 11th January hanging in his room/cell. We are yet unsure as to how he was found or by whom. At 12noon all detainees were locked in their rooms in Morton Hall which is why this time of death is suspected.

The Home Office have been contacted by The Unity Centre for confirmation of the event without comment.

The recently deceased was of Polish descent. The circumstances surrounding his suicide are that he was refused bail on the 23rd of December 2016, whereby, the argument was used by the Judge against granting bail because of the absence of a surety, his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time. She could not travel to the bail hearing because she was so close to her due date and Morton Hall is not an accessible place. Their baby was born on the day of the suicide, it is believed he was aware of the birth before he took his life, and that he had expressed enormous grief at not being allowed to see the birth of his child, the decision to deny him this right taken by the Home Office. His friend had also been removed from Morton Hall and the UK one day prior to this.

We have also been told that the individual had not committed any crime in the UK and that he had sought medical help for his mental health conditions and been told to use the gym facilities. He did this regularly.

One detainee while reflecting on Wednesday’s event says it is the ‘mental conditions’ of the centre that put so much pressure on people in detention to take such drastic actions. He said continuously thinking about things that are out of their hands is torture and that detention centres like Morton Hall are ‘ticking time bombs’. For him he says he is trying to be as strong as he can but how strong can he be?

One Unity Centre Volunteer recalls ‘Detainees are constantly comparing detention centres to prisons, with prisons being given preference. Detainees in Harmondsworth, now Heathrow Removal Centre, Colnbrook, Morton Hall and Yarlswood overwhelmingly report on the poor levels of health care and mental health support. One detainee who has since been removed after two years in Colnbrook said it was like a mental institution with everyone receiving anti-depressents and other medications, he even said there was a trolly that was wheeled around the centre each day handing such medications out. This cannot be the solution to locking people up with no idea on whether they will be released, deported, or continue to sit aimlessly in detention.’

While centres like Morton Hall exist, with indefinite periods of detention in place and among the increasingly hostile environment manufactured towards migrants within the UK preventable deaths will continue.

The Unity Centre will hold an emergency demo outside the Glasgow Home Office Reporting Centre on Brand Street at 4:30pm on Monday 16th January 2017. Facebook event here.

Leeds No Borders are planning a memorial – details TBA.

Call 07440227972 for more info or if you feel affected by this and want to speak anonymously to someone from The Unity Centre.