Your article on the use of shackles and restraints on those being deported (12 August) is a shocking revelation of how those being removed from the UK are treated. The National Independent Commission on Enforced Removals (NICER) report by Citizens UK contained clear and workable recommendations to make such removals safe and humane. This includes the use of painless restraint only if absolutely necessary and ending the use of shackles .
It has long been Liberal Democrat policy to end the use of private-sector companies for such enforcement and detention, and we demand the urgent implementation of the NICER report. All parties that care about treating people with humanity need to come together on this issue, so that this abuse of power, rightly condemned by David Lammy in your report, is brought to an end.
• “Restraint should be carried out in a way that preserves the dignity of the detainee,” according to a Home Office rule quoted in your article. Through my work with Cameroonian survivors of torture I have known many asylum seekers to be injured in the process of being returned but without the means to get treatment for broken bones in their home country.
One man I know well was sent back with a broken rib from a previous removal attempt and injected with a drug to make him quiet on the plane. When already in this bad state, he received further brutal treatment on arrival at the airport and was imprisoned and tortured again. Others have been so badly hurt that they have been brought back to the removal centre here and in most cases have eventually had their asylum claims accepted.
The latest disturbing account I received came from a Cameroonian man who lived with our family for many months but was sent back last year. He was rendered immobile on the plane through the use of several kinds of restraint, and was taken around Nairobi airport as part of a group, all chained to one escort. He told me he found this experience, as David Lammy so compellingly suggested, to be utterly degrading and reminiscent of the treatment suffered by slaves. He sent me a photo taken by his daughter of himself arriving in a disposable jump suit. It was meant to be removed before arrival at the airport but he bravely insisted on keeping it on in order to show the indignity he had suffered.
Goathland, North Yorkshire
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