A freedom of information request by the Guardian UK showed that Nigerians and Ghanaians were among 447 victims bound and cuffed with shackles and different forms of restraints by the United Kingdom Home Office between April 2018 and March 2019.
Quoting a recent report from her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the British newspaper said waist restraints were used on ‘cooperative detainees’ for long periods on a trip to Nigeria and Ghana earlier in the year.
“Waist restraint belts were still being used on cooperative detainees for extremely long periods without them being given a chance to demonstrate compliance. It is unacceptable that this problem continues to occur despite promises of remedial action,” an excerpt of the report explaining conditions on the chartered flight said.
Corroborating the conditions described on the 2019 flight, Lovelyn Edobor a disabled Nigerian, told the Guardian that she was placed in a waist restraint belt attached to a long chain and dragged along.
Another victim who was locked in a belt restraint is Najat Ismail.
Despite the fact that he is married to a British citizen with three children, he has faced deportation three times.
“I was sitting very still and I was crying because I was scared about being deported,” he told the Guardian.
“The feeling you get when you’re placed in handcuffs and the waist restraint belt is indescribable. It made me feel as if I was a killer although I have never committed a crime like that. They put the waist restraint on you, then they put your hands into it and you’re chained to an escort on the left and the right.
“I didn’t move because I thought if I did I might get injured. I just sat quietly and prayed. The whole thing felt so humiliating.
“I’m happy that my deportations were cancelled and that now I’m back with my wife and kids but being restrained like a killer brought back memories of all the trauma I experienced before.”
Ismail has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of conditions he faced in war-torn Iraq.
Responding to the actions of its contractors on deportation flights, a home office spokesperson said, “The dignity and welfare of all those in our care are of the utmost importance, as is the safety of individuals and those around them.
“We keep the use of restraint during escorted removals under review and we look at all removals where force is used to ensure that techniques are used proportionally, that they are justified, and are used for the minimum period required.”