Woman 'assaulted' by UK security guards during forced removal

The Government is investigating claims that a 26-year-old asylum-seeker from Cameroon was so badly assaulted during her forced removal on a British Airways flight that she has to use a wheelchair.

Stephanie Toumi claims that British security guards kicked her in the back of the leg and held her head down for two hours on a flight from Heathrow to Brussels earlier this month.

Her injuries were so serious that Belgian immigration officials refused to allow the escort team to fly her on to Cameroon, claims Ms Toumi, who fled her home in March after being tortured and abused by a village chief.

In April, the Home Office rejected Ms Toumi's asylum claim and fast-tracked her case to Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire for an early removal flight from the UK on 5 June. Ms Toumi alleges she was assaulted by four Group 4 Securicor (G4S) guards when she approached BA staff on the plane to inquire about her luggage.

She alleges: "The escorts threw themselves on me. One scraped me and I fell on my stomach, the other trapped my arms, twisting them behind and the other two put on handcuffs. I felt a very severe pain in my body and I wanted to twist my right foot to get up, but one of them totally paralysed this foot by giving me a sharp blow with his knee.

"When they finished handcuffing me one of them caught hold of my hair to lift me up. I felt ill as I have never felt ill all my life." She alleges that when she started crying, the guards said: "Shut up, stupid whore."

At Brussels airport, where the escort and the asylum-seeker were due to catch a flight to Cameroon, Belgian immigration officers noticed Ms Toumi was now unable to walk unaided and informed the escorts they would have to take her back to the UK.

An independent doctor's report found her injuries were due to the alleged assault. Ms Toumi has lost the use of the wheelchair, so cannot make her way to the Yarl's Wood dining hall.

Today a report by the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) calls on the Home Office to only employ forced removals as a last resort and authorise "dawn raids" by immigration officers only in extreme circumstances. Eight months ago another woman was so badly injured during her removal that the Cameroon government refused her entry and sent her back to Britain. Beatrice Guessie, 29, returned to the UK in a wheelchair but the Home Office dismissed her allegations of abuse. Both women are bringing legal actions against the Home Office.

Emma Ginn, of the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, said that these kind of cases are "depressingly familiar". She added: "This story of a torture victim coming back injured and then denied appropriate care in detention is a shocking disgrace. It is one of hundreds we have documented. This is state-sanctioned abuse."

A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said that the Government treated all allegations of assault extremely seriously. "The UKBA expects the highest levels of integrity from those carrying out duties on our behalf. The majority of staff carry out their roles with professionalism and integrity. It is standard procedure where physical or racial abuse is alleged to refer the case to the police and UKBA for investigation."

The spokesman added: "The UKBA is committed to ensuring removals are always carried out in the most sensitive way possible, treating those being removed with courtesy and dignity."

In a separate statement, G4S Justice Services (UK) said: "Escorting detainees is a very sensitive task. G4S will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour. Any staff member found to have acted improperly would be dealt with under robust disciplinary procedures."

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Foundation Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Nursery Teacher position in Devon Dev...

Primary Teacher

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: ***KS1 & KS2 Teachers ...

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week