Two months' jail for victim of terror

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The Independent Online
MONA does not know what has happened to her four children, only that they were taken away by Ugandan government soldiers, writes Heather Mills.

Neither does she know what happened to her husband, only that he escaped from prison after being tortured by having burning plastic poured on his body.

She herself was raped by the soldiers in front of her children.

Their 'crime' had been to belong to the Ugandan People's Congress, overthrown in a military coup in 1985.

Last year, Mona (not her real name) managed to flee from Uganda. In September, after travelling through various countries, she arrived in Britain, where she had friends and support.

Her anxiety over confidentiality and fears for her children rendered her unable to confide to immigration officials the full story of her family's torture and abuse. She was refused entry and sent to Harmondsworth detention centre for illegal immigrants, a hotchpotch of temporary buildings near Heathrow airport in west London.

It was an incarceration which the Medical Foundation for the Care and Torture of Victims says 'will have not have helped her to deal with the trauma of her experiences'.

She was complaining of chest pains, itching and headaches. She had insomnia, thinking constantly of her husband and children. A psychiatrist from the foundation found that she had post-traumatic stress disorder, which had become more acute since her arrival and detention.

After two months in prison, Mona was allowed temporary admission. But she is still waiting to find out if her asylum application is successful and still waiting for news of her family.