Just 16 months after a man died whilst being restrained by private security guards on board an aircraft, the House of Commons home office select committee has reported that ‘unauthorised and lethal restraint techniques’ are still being used to carry out immigration deportations.
This, the MPs found, is despite assurances given by the UK Border Agency and the private contractors it uses to carry out deportations that these techniques are not used by their staff.
The committee this week was reporting the findings of its inquiry into the death in October 2010 of Jimmy Mubenga.
Mubenga was being held on an aircraft at Heathrow airport awaiting deportation to Angola. he was in the custody of three security guards employed by the G4S security group.
Eyewitness reports from fellow passengers painted a completely different picture to one of a man being taken ‘unwell’, as the home office and G4S claimed at the time.
They described how Mubenga, who was in handcuffs, was held down by two security guards sitting on either side of him whilst the third, sitting in a seat in front, joined in forcing his head down between his legs and holding it there.
The witnesses described how, far from suddenly becoming unwell, he was moaning and groaning as if in pain for some time. for at least ten minutes he complained of being unable to breathe before finally losing consciousness.
The kind of position he was held in, as described by these witnesses, is well known to cause extreme breathing problems and lead to positional asphyxia.
Following Mubenga’s death, the three G4S guards were arrested by the police and, 16 months later, are still under investigation.
In the meantime, G4S no longer provides guards for these deportations, which are now carried out by another private contractor, Reliance.
According to the parliamentary committee, however, nothing appears to have changed.
In their report the MPs comment that: ‘We are not persuaded that head-down restraint positions are never used, even though they are not authorised.’
The head of the committee, Keith Vaz, also reported that the MPs were concerned that security staff were using offensive racist language not just amongst themselves but in the presence of UKBA and prison officials.
This has led Vaz to conclude that there is a racist culture among these guards and government officials and a ‘too cosy relationship’ between UKBA and the private contractors.
He also recorded his displeasure that the police investigation into the three arrested guards has gone on for 16 months without any end in sight.
Vaz and the rest of the MPs on this committee may well be shocked to learn that the UKBA and its private contractors are riddled with a culture of racism or that police inquiries are drawn out, but it will come as no surprise to the working class or youth who are well used to the racism that is rife throughout the judicial system.
The committee recommends that the guidelines dealing with restraint of prisoners and those facing deportation be tightened up; as if this will bring about one iota of change.
The fact is that the entire system is racist to the core – no amount of ‘guidelines’ or appeals to the humanity of the UKBA and the private contractors, who make their vast fortunes out of the human misery created by capitalism, can alter that.
Racism, which seeks to pit worker against worker by attempting to lay the blame for unemployment and wage cuts at the door of immigrant workers, is a product of this decaying, bankrupt capitalist system and the only way to eradicate the obscenity of racism forever lies in the overthrow of the capitalist system and replacing it with socialism.