The UK Border Agency has rejected a recommendation that it stop using force on pregnant women and children it is trying to remove from the UK, according to an internal government document.
The document contains UKBA’s response to recommendations for improvement at the government’s new child detention facility, Cedars, near Gatwick airport, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.
Inspectors said force should never be used to effect the removal of pregnant women or children but UKBA has written “reject” alongside this recommendation, saying that without it removals could be delayed, leading families to strengthen their ties with the UK.
They add that physical intervention could also not be ruled out with children and that “the adoption of new techniques for use on children are under consideration”.
The inspectors highlighted a particular incident in which a pregnant woman had her wheelchair tipped up and her feet held by G4S when she resisted the “substantial force” they applied to her.
The Guardian has obtained a 17-page, handwritten complaint from the pregnant woman in the wheelchair about her treatment prior to and during removal. She was unable to lodge a complaint before she, her husband and young son were forced on to a plane but managed to send the letter after being returned to her home country.
The letter states: “The…woman from G4S pressed my belly. I cried from pain. I said: ‘you hurt my belly, you hurt my baby’ she refused to stop. They began to drag me from wheelchair to floor, from floor to wheelchair. I was resisting. They were like animals. I was dragged through corridors, I was dragged like a dog.”
The woman claimed three or four G4S men in helmets, holding riot shields, jumped on her husband “like my husband was a terrorist” and that he too was treated like a dog. She said her body was covered in bruises after the incident.
UKBA officials also refused to delay the removal of detainees who allege assault during removal when the assault is backed by medical evidence. They say complaints can be investigated after the detainee has been deported. In practice such investigations are likely to be extremely difficult to conduct as some detainees are arrested and detained on return home. Others go underground and are unable to maintain phone or email contact with the UK.
(Source: The Guardian [UK])