Home Affairs Committee



The factual information presents four cases of enforced removals. The cases reveal that:

  • Deportees are physically abused by UKBA subcontractors Tascor (previously called Reliance) during removal.
  • Inadequate legal assistance and poor asylum case adjudication by the Home Office leads to the deportation of asylum seekers who should receive refugee status, in potential violation of international protection norms and principles of national and international refugee law.

The Fahamu Refugee Programme and the Post-Deportation Monitoring Network

The Fahamu Refugee Programme (FRP) was established in 2009 by Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond OBE, a leading figure in refugee studies, and founder/director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford (1982/96).439 For lawyers/paralegals who provide legal assistance to refugees, FRP’s information portal440 brings together widely scattered resources. Through Resource Persons,441 a monthly Newsletter,442 a moderated list serv,443 and training,444[6] the FRP nurtures the growing refugee legal assistance movement, and encourages active sharing of information and expertise among legal practitioners throughout the world.

The FRP’s Post-Deportation Monitoring Network (PDMN) was launched in 2012.445 The PDMN has two immediate aims: to create a network of NGOs willing to meet deported asylum seekers at the airport to offer services that would mitigate the worst excesses (imprisonment and torture) that may occur on the arrival.

Secondly, the PDMN is building a body of evidence of human rights abuses post-deportation in order to affect sound policy and make this evidence available for strategic litigation to challenge deportation policies that risk lives and undermine access to fair legal proceedings.

Putting lives at risk by providing asylum files to national immigration authorities abroad

1. When a refused asylum seeker is deported from the UK, he or she is escorted by UKBA staff or UKBA’s subcontractors. Upon arrival at the receiving country’s airport, the deportee is handed over to national immigration staff with their files (or they have been sent in advance). National immigration authorities are thereby informed that a deportee has claimed asylum. Asylum seekers may be considered traitors as the nature of asylum suggests no confidence in governmental capacity to protect. This practice therefore risks the safety and necessarily compromises the privacy of refused asylum seekers.

2. A report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons documented the removal of a charter flight of 29 Sri Lankan detainees to Colombo airport. The Sri Lankan authorities did not allow inspectors to see the handover process. The Chief inspector notes that UKBA staff was unsure about what to do if they had concern about the behaviour of receiving official.446 A Human Rights Watch document gives an account of ethnic Tamils being subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment by immigration authorities after their arrival in Sri Lanka.447 While the report does not explicitly state the ethnicity of the deportees, it does report the accompanying documents were translated into Tamil.

3. In the case of Uganda, Bernadette Iyodu reports: ‘A failed asylum seeker, with a deportation certificate, arrives at Entebbe airport and is handed over to one of the security organisations. If suspected of politically dissident activities, the person is taken to a safe house for questioning. Rape, for women, is inevitable. Children over the age of three are taken from their mothers and put in an orphanage. Detention can last weeks, or months; a number of people have “disappeared” from custody.’448

Abuse during removal: Death of Jackie Nanyonjo

4. Jacky Nanyonjo (JN) was deported from the UK to Uganda on 12 January 2013 on Qatar Airways Flight QR76.449 According to the Human Rights Group Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MfJ), she died in Uganda on 8 March 2013.450

5. JN applied for asylum in the UK after she had fled Uganda where she was persecuted for her sexual orientation. In the UK, testimonies by her friends and her partner were deemed insufficient to corroborate JN’s claim of being a lesbian. After her application for asylum had been dismissed, JN was detained in the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in November 2012. In December 2012 JN resisted a removal attempt and was subject to excessive use of force applied by UKBA’s subcontractor Reliance (now Tascor). After the removal attempt was abandoned, JN filed a complaint with UKBA.451

6. On 12 January 2013, JN was removed. She was escorted by four Reliance (now Tascor) guards. Although JN resisted, the removal was carried out with the guards applying restraining techniques and an excessive use of force.452 Having landed in Uganda, the escort handed JN over to the Ugandan authorities, who held her for many hours and made it impossible for her to receive medical attention.453 Family members waiting for her at Entebbe airport only met her long after the flight arrived and took her straight to a clinic. According to MfJ, JN was in great pain and vomited blood.454 After release from the clinic, JN went into hiding for fear she had been exposed as a lesbian.455 She was unable to receive follow up medical attention as her family feared taking her to a hospital or clinic would also expose her sexual orientation.456 JN’s health declined rapidly, and she died on 8 March 2013.

7. The case of JN demonstrates the effects of excessive force on deportees during removal. Furthermore, JN was forced to go into hiding after having been deported to Uganda, this indicates that she faced a real risk upon return due to her sexual orientation and demonstrates that she should have received refugee status.

Abuse during removal: Ugandan deportee sustains injuries during removal

8. On Wednesday, 10 April 2013, the FRP received an emergency request from the Churches Refugee Network. MK, a Ugandan national, was to be removed (10 April 2013 on flights KQ101 & KQ410 to Entebbe, Uganda—via Nairobi, Kenya at 20.00 hrs.), asking us to alert The Refugee Law Project in Kampala about the impending deportation of MK.

9. In the morning of Thursday, 11 April 2013, MK was met by a lawyer from RLP at Entebbe Airport.

10. A report sent by the RLP lawyer to FRP’s staff follows:

‘I wish to inform you that MK arrived this morning as scheduled. I was at the Entebbe International Airport to receive her. However she was mistreated and excessive force applied on her by four escorts from Tascor. This happened while she was at the holding facility at Heathrow, at the time of boarding the plane and during transit. Her handcuffs were tightly secured which has caused her hands to swell, her legs were shackled, she was shoved around, one of the escorts grabbed and pulled her by the hair, which came off as a result of the force applied, she was held by the neck and mouth, she now has pains around her throat and sustained a cut above her lip, she was elbowed in the chest and is in pain. We drove straight to a hospital where she is currently receiving treatment.’457

11. As the case of MK shows, the UKBA’s subcontractor Tascor is alleged to use excessive force on deportees.

Ugandan deportee sustains injuries during removal and goes into hiding afterwards.

12. Ernestine Cath, staff of the SOAS Detainee Support Group (SDS), reported to FRP on a Ugandan asylum seeker who fled Uganda after his sexuality had been outed. He applied for asylum in the UK on 14 January 2012, two days after arriving in the country. After his screening interview he was put in the Detained Fast Track procedure.458 He was refused asylum on 27 November 2012 and his appeals were dismissed. He was given removal directions for 14 January 2013, which were cancelled. He was subsequently removed on 4 February 2013.

13. A SOAS visitor remained in contact with the detainee after his removal. During a phone conversation on 5 February 2013 the detainee told the visitor that he had been handcuffed on both flights from London to Doha and his flight from Doha to Kampala. According to the detainee the guards had threatened to sedate him. Coincidentally, Ms. Cath received a report from someone who happened to have been on the same flight with the Ugandan. His account reads: ‘[R]ight before takeoff, [the detainee] screamed really loudly for a few minutes as his “minders” told him to calm down or they’d have to sedate him. At this point, everyone on the plane was a little bit nervous and scared, but the cabin crew told the people who asked about it, that he was a deportee, and then everyone just calmed down. We took off a minute later and [the detainee] was quiet. I then went to his guards and said some things to them, and reminded them of what sending him back meant, but they obviously ignored it all.’459

14. The SOAS visitor spoke to the detainee again on 8 February 2013. The detainee told the visitor that he had managed to go ‘into hiding’ with the support of a friend in Kampala. She contacted him on 11 April 2013 he stated he was still in hiding. He had assumed a different identity as his sexuality had been outed in several newspapers.460 He also informed her that his wrists were still sore from the handcuffs from when he was deported two months earlier.

15. This case attests that UKBA’s subcontractors use excessive force on deportees including threats of sedation. The fact that the refused asylum seeker had to go into hiding and assume another identity after having been deported to Ugandan indicates that he faced a real risk upon return due to his sexual orientation and suggests that he should have received refugee status.

Pakistani Christian removed to Pakistan victim to attacks on Christians and forced to flee to Afghanistan

16. SOAS Detainee Support Group (SDS) reported to FRP that they started visiting a detainee on Harmondsworth IRC on 28 February 2013. The detainee told the visitor, Maximilian Lohnert, he had removal directions on a chartered flight set for 4 May 2013. His claim for asylum, based on being persecuted as a Christian in Pakistan, had been rejected through the Detained Fast Track system on 08 February 2013. He had no legal representation during the stages of appeals as his previous solicitors had stopped representing him after the initial decision. The detainee had signed up for a legal duty rota the next day, 16 February 2013. He got an appointment for the 4 March 2013. Mr Lohnert tried to contact solicitors on 29 February 2013, but this was unsuccessful. During the weekend 2–3 March 2013 Mr. Lohnert was able to get the detainee’s Pakistani court documents attesting a fatwa461 against him dated 7 January 2013 translated into English by an official translator. Without representation the detainee had tried to submit the evidence himself, but was unsuccessful. He was deported on 5 March 2013 from Heathrow Airport.

17. On 9 March 2013 Ernestine Cath and Mr Lohnert, received an email from the deportee describing his situation in Pakistan. He mentioned that his situation was critical as he had just been attacked and injured in Lahore. On the day he was writing the email, 9 March 2013, more than 100 Pakistani Christian houses were burnt in Lahore.462 and 463

18. The deportee further reported that his family in Karachi had also been attacked, most probably because his case had been in a newspaper article. On the 29 March the deportee wrote Ms Cath that he was going to flee to Afghanistan, because his situation was too dangerous.464

19. The case attests to the limited access asylum seekers on the Detained Fast Track procedure have to legal aid and to the challenges of lodging an asylum claim without legal representation. This leads to the deportation of refused asylum seeker whose life is in danger post-deportation.


1. The Fahamu Refugee Programme recommends that

  • allegations of abuse during deportation be thoroughly investigated and those offending should be appropriate charged for their actions;
  • cuts to legal aid funding for refugees be reversed;
  • the basis for decisions to put asylum seekers into fast track procedures must be reviewed;465
  • legal aid should be available for judicial review in cases pending deportation without reference to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA);
  • no one who has not had legal representation during the asylum process should be deported.

Fahamu Refugee Programme

April 2013

439 Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond is a legal anthropologist. On retirement from the RSC, she conducted research in Kenya and Uganda from 1997-2000 (see Right in Exile: Janus-Faced Humanitarianism, Berghahn Book, 2005), where she also began the Refugee Law Project. She began another refugee studies centre and taught for this graduate degree at the American University in Cairo (2000-08). She also founded a refugee legal assistance program in Cairo, now AMERA-Egypt, in 2000, and a UK charity, Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA) in 2003. In 1996 Dr. Harrell-Bond received the American Anthropological Association’s Distinguished Service Award; 2004 elected Honorary Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford; and in 2005 received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contribution to refugee studies. She is now co-director of FRP, which is the Secretariat of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN).

445 See http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/post-deportation-monitoring-network and Podeszfa, L. and S. Eldridge (2012), ‘Launching the Post-Deportation Monitoring Network’, http://frlan.tumblr.com/post/30649441834/launching-the-post-deportation-monitoring-network; Podezsfa, L. and C. Manicom (2012), ‘Avoiding Refoulement: The Need to Monitor Deported Failed Asylum Seekers.’ http://oxmofm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Leana-and-Charlotte-FINAL.pdf; Podeszfa, L. and Vetter; F. (2012) ‘Violating the rights of deportees: why some deportations to African states amount to refoulement’, http://democracyinafrica.org/violating-the-rights-of-deportees-why-some-deportations-to-african-states-amount-to-refoulment/; Siegfried, K. (2013) ‘New network monitors deportee abuses’, http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97637/New-network-monitors-deportee-abuses

446 See HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (2013) ‘Detainees under escort: Inspection of escort and removals to Sri Lanka. 6-7 December 2012’, https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmipris/detainee-escort-inspections/sri-lanka-2012.pdf

447 See Human Rights Watch (2012) ‘United Kingdom: Halt Deportation Flight to Sri Lanka’, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/15/united-kingdom-halt-deportation-flight-sri-lanka

448 See Iyodu, B (2010) ‘Uganda: The silent practice if immigration’, http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/64236.

449 See Phil Miller (2013) ‘Jackie Nanyonjo, Jimmy Mubenga and Joy Gardner: all killed by Britain’s racist deportation regime’ (http://stopdeportations.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/919/).

450 See Scott Roberts (2013) ‘UK: Protest planned outside Home Office following the death of lesbian Ugandan Asylum seeker’ (http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/03/13/uk-protest-planned-outside-home-office-following-death-of-lesbian-ugandan-asylum-seeker/).

451 See Phil Miller (2013).

452 Ibid.

453 See Scott Roberts (2013).

454 Ibid.

455 See Melanie Nathan (2013) ‘Lesbian dies after being deported by United Kingdom back to Uganda’ (http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/03/13/lesbian-dies-after-being-deported-by-united-kingdom-back-to-uganda/).

456 See Scott Roberts (2013).

457 Email from RLP employee to Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond, Themba Lewis, Leana Podeszfa, Friederike Vetter and others on 11 April 2013.

458 Detained Fast Track (DFT) is one of five paths an application for asylum can take. DFT places the applicant in detention for the duration of their claim. Originally applications on DFT were to be decided within seven days. When DFT was introduced at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) the detention period of applicants was extended to include the appeals process and, if necessary, removal. In its report ‘Asylum: a thematic inspection of the Detained Fast Track’ the Independent Chief inspector of the UK Border Agency found a significant contrast between the timescales experienced by the people in their sample and the published indicative timescales. Longer waiting times affect the overall time a person can spend in detention. See Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency (2011) ‘Asylum: A thematic inspection of the Detained Fast Track. July – September 2011’ http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Asylum_A-thematic-inspection-of-Detained-Fast-Track.pdf.

459 Email sent to SDS on 10 February 2013

460 The Uganda tabloid ‘Red Pepper’ and the Rolling Stone newspaper published photos and names of homosexuals. The Rolling Stone titled the article ‘Hang them’. Many people on the lists reporting facing harassment. Gay rights activist David Kato was killed. See Rice, X. ‘Ugandan paper calls for gay people to be hanged’, The Guardian, 21 October 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/21/ugandan-paper-gay-people-hanged; Rice, X. ‘Ugandan paper ordered to stop printing list of gay people’, The Guardian, 1 November 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/01/uganda-paper-gay-list; and BBC News Africa, ‘Uganda gay rights activist David Kato killed’, 27 January 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12295718

461 A fatwa is a legal proclamation in Islam. It is issued by an Islamic scholar of law on a specific issue or person.

462 The original email reads: ‘I am reached back to my home country but her situation is very critical new a day. I gaine have attack in Lahore Pakistan and I am injured in this incidence but very sorry lot of Peoples have lose home and life’s but I not safe. I have trey to explain to you about myself and Pakistani Christian’ Please try to do some think for me and keep in pray for me and all Pakistani Christians But nobody believe for us in UK. They did not understand Christian we beloved the help us. They did not understand for Christian problem with Christian in Pakistan. Now they real Story Pakistani Media telecasts about who have existed Pakistani Christian to UK. Same I have already mentioned in my statement in have declare in front of court they kill me and they burnt home of Christen,,, today they have burnt 100 home of christen in Lahore’

463 See The New International ‘Lahore: Christian homes, burnt, plundered over blasphemy row’, 9 March 2013, http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-91547-Lahore:-Christian-homes,-burnt,-plundered-over-blasphemy-row

464 The original email reads ‘Due to critical circumstance of life. I will move Pakistan to Afghanistan, I have meet with may Peoples in Pakistan but not agree to help me.’

465 For example, an asylum seeker from a state where Islam is the official religion, whose claim is based on religious conversion, or from a state where homosexuality is a crime, but is claiming asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation, should never be fast-tracked.

Prepared 11th October 2013