We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of a man detained at Manston STHF. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. We stand in solidarity with them as well as everyone detained under immigration powers across the UK.
We can only imagine the pain and powerlessness of being so seriously unwell while deprived of your liberty at the mercy of the hostile environment.
While we do not wish to rush to any conclusions ahead of investigation, his death cannot be divorced from the wider context surrounding Manston and Immigration Policy in the UK.
The relentless dehumanisation and criminalisation of migrants by politicians and the press aims to create fertile ground for facilities like Manston. A place where people seeking asylum are routinely unlawfully detained, stripped of their dignity and forced to endure appalling conditions including Diphtheria outbreaks and lack of food and water - all without access to legal advice.
Manston is a short-term holding facility, it is therefore against the law to hold people there for more than 24 hours without ministerial authorisation in exceptional circumstances. Before his death, it is understood that this man spent almost a week detained at the facility.
There has been very little transparency of what happens inside Manston. BID and other legal advice organisations do not have access to go in and provide advice, and we understand the situation is the same for legal aid lawyers.
There is a tarpaulin to prevent the centre from being seen from the outside – we understand this was constructed after a demonstration. What happens inside Manston is far away from the public eye, and the government appears intent on keeping it that way.
As Inquest’s Deborah Coles told The Guardian, “It feels as if it was only a matter of time before a death like this happened in this completely closed facility.”
The treatment of people at Manston is a national disgrace. We call for its complete closure along with the closure of all detention centers across the UK.
We know from over two decades of providing legal advice to people in detention that there is no humane way to detain people under immigration powers and that tragedies like this will continue to occur until it is ended once and for all.