Challenge to use of force on deportation flights

A failed asylum seeker who has battled for 18 years to stay in the UK has brought a High Court challenge over restraint methods he fears could be used against him if he is forcibly removed from the country.

The 53-year-old Algerian has in the past attempted to poison himself and also threatened to set light to himself because of the threat of deportation.

The man, ‘Z’, who lives in north London, is seeking a ruling that the government regime for the use of force on aircraft to control and restrain people thought to pose a problem is unlawful because there are insufficient safeguards in place.

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His application for judicial review is being fought by human rights campaign group Liberty, which argues the current restraint techniques are “dangerously inadequate” and put the lives of vulnerable detainees at risk.

A judge is due to give a ruling in the next few weeks.

Z arrived in the UK in May 1994 hidden in the back of a lorry. He lost a series of battles against deportation, claiming his life would be in danger if sent back to Algeria, and he has remained in the UK without permission.

His lawyers say there is now a real risk that he will be removed.

Given his history and a deterioration in his mental health following a period in detention, they say there is also concern that restraint techniques will be used on him by security guards accompanying him on a deportation flight.

Liberty referred Mr Justice Foskett at a hearing this week to past incidents in which allegedly excessive force was used on people being deported.

In October 2010 one man being removed died while being restrained by guards after finding it difficult to breathe, the judge was told. Home Office lawyers argue the restraint methods are safe and do not violate human rights.

The judge was also told that a new manual is expected to be produced in the next few months, plus training information, specifically geared towards the use of force on aircraft.

Liberty’s solicitor said: “Removing people from the country is difficult and distressing work. The current techniques are dangerously inadequate.”