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Suicides in Immigration Detention


Bereket Yohannes
, (26), 19/1/06, an Eritrean asylum seeker found hanged in a shower block at Harmondsworth Removal Centre. 

Manuel Bravo, (35), 15/9/05, an Angolan asylum seeker detained in Yarl's Wood with his 13-year-old son, found hanged in a stairwell the day he was due to be deported (photo left of Manuel Bravo’s vigil at the gates of Yarl’s Wood).

Ramazan Kumluca, (19), 27/6/05, a Kurdish asylum seeker from Turkey who had been detained for 5 months, found hanged in Campsfield House Removal centre.

Kenny Peter, 7/11/04, a Nigerian asylum seeker who died in Charing Cross Hospital, nearly 3 weeks after sustaining injuries during an apparent self-harm attempt at Colnbrook Removal Centre - it is believed that he jumped from a landing in Colnbrook and sustained serious injuries, from which he later died.

Tran Quang Tung, (23), 23/7/04, a Vietnamese man, was found hanged in Dungavel Removal Centre just days after being transferred there from Harmondsworth after a disturbance following a suicide.

Sergey Barnuyck, (31), 19/7/04, a Ukrainian, found hanged in Harmondsworth - his death sparked a night of disturbances at the Centre and led to all of the detainees being transferred to prisons and other detention centres. 

Mikhail Bognarchuk, (42), 31/1/03, a Ukrainian asylum seeker, found hanged at Haslar Removal Centre. Robertas Grabys, 24/01/00, a Lithuanian man, found hanged in Harmondsworth the day he was due to be deported - a report into his death criticised the sub-contractor for a hopeless lack of procedures to deal with people at risk of suicide.

“The centre's suicide awareness team was unaware that there had been 11 incidents in the month before the inspection” - An HMIP report on Harmondsworth

Amnesty International reported in June 2005: “The human cost of this policy is frighteningly high. We found that languishing in detention with no end in sight had led to mental illness, self-harm and even to people trying to take their own life”.

An undercover journalist at Yarl’s Wood reported that an officer explained to guards during training that GSL are fined £10,000 for each successful suicide bid and said: “And smaller profits for Group 4 [now known as GSL] mean smaller pay rises for us” and “There are signs that people are going to self-harm. [In funny voice] ‘No one will miss me’ [laughter] ‘ I won’t see tomorrow’” and “Some staff say, ‘oh, alright mate’ and shake their hand.”  Another officer was reported as listing the external escorts that are carried out: “We do hospitals, dentists, funerals … we should be so lucky. Did I say that? [to laughter].

Inadequate access to health care and legal representation, high levels of assaults, racist abuse, coupled with trauma from possible prior detention and torture in their home country, and fear of being sent back to places like Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – is a lethal cocktail.

Statistics released by the Home Office from September 2005 reveal that 99.6% of “Fast Track” asylum cases, including those from countries such as Iran and Myanmar (Burma), were refused. These are grounds to believe that there will be more suicides because conditions have not improved.

Driven to desperate measures - 21/09/06