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Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture examines deportation of foreign nationals from the UK

Date of Publication: 
23 July 2013
Summary: 
CPT releases report on the UK's handling of the return of foreign nationals to Sri Lanka on a charter flight from Stansted

Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture examines deportation of foreign nationals from the UK

23 July 2013
EIN

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) last week published its first report looking at the deportation of foreign nationals by air from the UK.

The report specifically looked at a charter flight between London and Colombo in Sri Lanka.

It is notable (especially in light of GJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG [2013] UKUT 00319 (IAC)) that the CPT expressed its regret that the Sri Lankan authorities did not allow its delegation to observe the hand-over of the returned detainees to local immigration staff.

More generally, the CPT found the UK operation to have been carefully planned and organised, staff were well briefed, and every effort was made for the removal to be carried out in a humane way.

The main issues raised by the CPT concern the use of restraint by escort staff (the report briefly mentions the death of Jimmy Mubenga in this context), the presence of a medical doctor (instead of a paramedic or a nurse) on board removal charter flights, and the need for a “fit to fly certificate” for persons to be deported. In particular, the CPT recommends that efforts be made for the revised training package for overseas escorts to be accredited and implemented at the earliest opportunity.

In their response to the CPT, the UK authorities indicate that an Independent Advisory Panel on Non-Compliance Management has been recruited to assess the quality and safety of the recently revised training package developed by the National Offender Management Service. As regards the presence of a medical doctor on board, the authorities indicate that “where indicated by risk assessment and where appropriate a doctor will be provided”. On the subject of the delivery of a “fit to fly certificate”, the authorities indicate that they do not consider it necessary “to positively assert in all cases that a person is fit to fly based on the reasonable assumption that this will be the case in the vast majority of instances”.

Other important recommendations by the CPT related to the presence of interpreters throughout the whole removal process (including on board the aircraft), as well as the provision of psychological support and counselling to better prepare the persons to be deported for their removal.

You can read the full CPT report here and you can read the UK’s response to it here.