It is four years since the death of Jimmy Mubenga, but we still cannot be sure deportees are being treated decently

A new report raises specific concerns over the “disproportionate use of force and restraint”, as well as “unprofessional behaviour”

Share

The death of Jimmy Mubenga is and will remain a stain on Britain’s reputation as a civilised country. What is still worse is that the lessons of the despicable affair do not appear to have been consistently learned.

The 46-year-old died in 2010 while waiting on a plane at Heathrow airport to be deported back to Angola; and the details that emerged at the inquest, which concluded last summer, are as harrowing as they are shameful. Mr Mubenga was heavily restrained for more than half an hour while waiting for the flight to take off. Although his three G4S guards subsequently claimed not to have heard him shouting that he could not breathe and was doing to die, several other passengers reportedly did, and after four days of deliberations, the jury returned a nine-to-one majority verdict of unlawful killing.

It should not, of course, have taken a person’s death to establish the mistreatment of those being deported from Britain as wholly and unequivocally unacceptable. With the dark underbelly of one of the more troublesome areas of law enforcement so starkly revealed, however, it might have been reasonable to expect a thorough overhaul of relevant training and procedures, to ensure the racism, violence and gross unprofessionalism revealed at the Mubenga inquest was thoroughly stamped out.

And yet it would seem not. According to the most recent research into treatment of detainees published by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, while the majority of escort procedures appear “well organised”, with detainees dealt with “sensitively and effectively”, there are notable exceptions. Indeed, the report – which covers the treatment of deportees for the first time, directly as a result of Mr Mubenga’s death – raises specific concerns over the “disproportionate use of force and restraint”, as well as “unprofessional behaviour” such as the use of offensive language. All of which adds up to a picture of activities that are still far from the standards of safety, decency and disinterestedness to be expected from those acting on behalf of the British state.

There are a number of suggested remedies. Not only should the UK Border Agency ensure that all escort staff are suitably trained, particularly in the appropriate use of force, ad hoc techniques should also be subject to “rigorous management scrutiny” and the detainee should be the centre of staff attention throughout. That such apparently obvious recommendations are needed at all can only be a cause for concern. Moreover, with one life already lost to excessive restraint, it is difficult to credit that there are still “no recognised safe procedures” for subduing the unruly while on an aircraft. Such lack of clarity is simply unacceptable.

By its very nature, deportation is one of the more inhumane activities in which the state must engage. It is therefore incumbent upon us both rigorously to establish appropriate procedures and equally rigorously to monitor their use. The death of Jimmy Mubenga cannot be undone. At best, all possible attention must be paid to ensuring that such barbarity is not repeated. Sad to say, we cannot yet be confident it is.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition