One Response to “Adult and child asylum seekers”

  1. Mark Struthers September 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    I recently responded to this BMJ article on IRCs …

    My response was not posted and I now appear to have been banned from responding at all, on anything, and everything, including the issue of editorial hypocrisy, the matter of the editorial double standard, and the sanctimonious piety of the editor in chief.

    Perhaps you will permit me to post my lost response here?

    “For the sake of our society”

    Medical Justice is an organisation that exposes and challenges inadequate healthcare provision to immigration detainees. Medical Justice believes that the harm being caused by these institutions is so widespread that the only solution is to close them down. In 2007, Alexander Goodman, Chair of Medical Justice, wrote,

    “But the problem is not only that people in detention are perceived as being of less value, it is that they also come to be treated as such. All of those who work with detainees share experiences of neglect, discrimination and abuse on a scale that is saddening and frightening. I see Medical Justice’s work as reminding ourselves that we must treat all people with equal value, not just for those people’s sakes, but for the sake of our society.” [1]

    As a doctor working in a prison, I was disturbed and dispirited to read this article by Nayanah Siva. However, the poor quality of Home Office decisions in asylum cases has dismayed me too, as evidenced by a recent case that richly deserves to be highlighted.

    Mr. Justice Charles came to Britain in 2002, seeking asylum in the aftermath of the civil war in Sierra Leone. In 2005, he formed a relationship with Ruby Senior, a British woman, and in 2008 they were married in Sheffield. Ruby is chronically unwell and she and her five children are dependent on her new husband. Despite the government’s apparent support for “strong and stable families of all kinds”, the Home
    Office claims that Ruby and Justice have only a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ – despite ample evidence to the contrary. As a former asylum seeker, Mr. Charles has no right to work and no recourse to public funds – yet he has actually saved the taxpayer money because of the reduced financial support that Ruby gets because he is there to care for her.

    Last month, Justice Charles was arrested, accused of being party to a ‘sham’ marriage and detained at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre, pending deportation. On 16 August Mr Charles was transferred to Colnbrook IRC near Heathrow with the aim of being put on a flight to West Africa on 19 August. Fortunately, thanks to campaigners in Sheffield, the Home Office relented and his deportation was postponed. It’s a shame that society must rely on the decency of good people to ensure the decent thing is done by refugees who have had to seek asylum in this country. [2] The decision making in this case has been cold and callous and ultimately harmful to our society: the Home Office and its officials have shamed us all.

    [1] “Beyond Comprehension and Decency”: An introduction to the work of Medical Justice. July 2007.

    [2] Free Justice Charles: Facebook Group created by Graham Wroe, 12
    August 2011.!/groups/257978900887322/

    Competing interests: None declared