Press Release: Detainee on Hunger Strike – Detained over 1 year with no prospect of removal

Abdulwahed Ofkir has been in the UK since he was a minor, now he is 25 years old. He claimed asylum in 2007 but has been detained three times and has spent a total of 34 months in immigration detention. He is currently held in Morton Hall IRC and has now been on hunger strike for 5 days.  Abdul has a five year old son who he is unable to see because he is currently imprisoned indefinitely. The stress caused by indefinite detention has meant Abdul’s health has worsened. He has paranoia, depression and swelling, as well as debilitating headaches. He is vulnerable physically as well as psychologically. He can’t sleep. Abdul’s nationality is disputed, his mother is Moroccan and he does not know his father, who is of another nationality. Abdul left Morocco when he was just 8 years old and was in the care of social services here in the UK.

For over 5 years now, the Home Office have not been able to obtain the required Travel Documents from the Moroccan authorities, in order to remove Abdul. Abdul has always complied with the Home Office, during the 8 years they have been processing his case – this time period is unfortunately not uncommon, with people’s immigration matters lasting years. Wait times are unpredictable and people are powerless to address the arbitrary delays.

The Home Office have the power to imprison asylum seekers and other migrants, without trial, and without sentence or time limit. We are one of the only countries in the world to do this, and there is cross-parliamentary denouncement of it. The Shaw Report was damming, the movement against detention is growing. But the government continues to detain people in their thousands, most of whom go on to be released. All the while, the private companies running detention centres profit.

This system is deadly. Another Moroccan man, Amir Siman-Tov, was found dead in his cell at Colnbrook detention centre, only last month. Deaths are frequent, both in suspicious circumstances and at the hands of guards.

The Home Office have clear guidelines relating to immigration detention that state there must be a realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable time frame – for Abdul this is clearly not the case. Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights states there is a right to liberty, and in immigration detention legislation it is stated there is a presumption in favour of liberty. For Abdul, these words are meaningless.

Please read his words below and do what you can to highlight his plight. He, like thousands of others languishing in UK immigration detention centres, is desperate.

“Because I want to find my son I haven’t seen in 3years. I want tot find my mum I haven’t seen in 16years and I want my freedom back and I don’t want to be locked in detention centre. Back in 2010 I have done 2year in detention centre and 2013 I have done 6month in detention centre now and I have done over 12month in detention centre. I have been in Harmondsworth, Colnbrook, Dover, Brook House and Morton Hall.

I have been in detention centre over 13month and I haven’t eating in this past 5 days only drinking water. I feel stressed ill and it has been so hard for me to cope. I cant sleep sometimes thinking of ending my life or harming myself. the home office case worker has told me that I have to stay in detention centre until the Moroccan embassy issue them my papers. And the Moroccan embassy has told them they don’t have no papers to give them. Since the home office don’t understand that they decide to keep me here locked up.” 

– Abdulwahed Ofkir 16/03/2016