Starving asylum seeker loses appeal against deportation

Demonstrators hold a vigil outside Harmondsworth Detention Centre, where Muazu is held
Demonstrators hold a vigil outside Harmondsworth Detention Centre, where Muazu is held
Ian Dunt By

An asylum seeker who is thought to be on the verge of death will be deported later this week, after he lost his court appeal.

Isa Muazu is set to be deported to Nigeria, where he fears attack by Islamic extremists Boko Haram - a group he says has already killed several members of his family.

He has been on hunger strike against his detention for over 90 days and is said by supporters to no longer be able to see or stand.

This afternoon his lawyers lost an appeal demanding he be released from detention into a hospital, so he could recover from his ordeal.


The Home Office has judged him 'fit to fly' and he is set to be deported on a Virgin Atlantic flight on Wednesday night.

"Shame on the Home Office for plans to remove a man unable to sit unassisted, and with the possible use of restraints," Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, told Politics.co.uk.

"This case exposes the chaos and inhumanity at the heart of our immigration system - and shows extended detention as unnecessary, damaging and counterproductive."

Leading human rights activist Peter Tatchell said the behaviour of the home secretary lacked "compassion".

He added: "Isa Muazu has a well-founded fear of persecution if he is returned to Nigeria.

"Boko Haram terrorists have already murdered many people. It is too risky to return Isa to a country where his life may be in danger.

"Civilised countries do not allow hunger strikers to die. Isa is clearly unfit to travel."

Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert has tabled an urgent question into the efforts to deport Muazu, with another urgent question being tabled in the Lords by Lord Roberts of Llandudno.

Neither question was selected today, possibly because the matter was considered sub-judice while the court appeal was being heard.

"This is an astonishing case and anyone following it can't help but be sympathetic to Isa Muazu, Huppert told Politics.co.uk.

"It's quite clears he's not in a state where he can be deported, so it's odd to keep him pending deportation. I hope the home secretary will release him so he can go to hospital."

The Home Office insists Muazu is 'fit to fly' and can be deported on a scheduled flight, but it has also launched an 'end of life' plan to help him write his will.

Huppert branded it an "astonishing judgement."

"This is clearly not a man who is fit to fly," he added.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: "This is a man who has not eaten food for over 80 days and who the Home Office is now saying is fit to fly.

"By refusing to release Isa so he can be treated in hospital, the home secretary is denying him medical care which he desperately needs - and his fundamental rights.

"It's a disgrace and the home secretary should be ashamed of her role in such inhumane treatment of someone who has sought refuge in our country."

Supporters of the Nigerian national told Politics.co.uk they had been prevented from visiting him, despite legal obligations on the detention centre to allow them in.

Detainees are allowed to receive guests in the visitors' area, although those who have been given an 'end of life' plan are allowed to receive visitors in the medical centre.

But a case worker who has long worked with Muazu was barred from seeing him yesterday when she arrived for a visit, despite having his lawyer on the phone to confirm her right attend.

"Security took me into this tiny, empty room, with a kid's chair," she said.

"He stood very, very close to me, towering over me, and said: 'You won't be able to visit him'."

May has failed to reply to a letter from over 40 MPs and peers calling on her to show mercy to the asylum seeker.

The letter was signed by Lib Dem peer Baroness Shirley Williams, Respect MP George Galloway, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Labour MP John McDonnell and others.

Critics say the row is similar to that over Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands, whose death on hunger strike in 1981 caused worldwide protests against the British government.

Eiri Ohtani, spokesperson for the Detention Forum said: "It is unacceptable that the Home Office are preparing to allow someone to die on a mattress on the floor of a high security detention centre or in handcuffs on an airplane surrounded by security guards.

"We understand that Isa Muazu came to this country seeking safety from persecution In Nigeria. He was detained in prison-like conditions on the same day that he claimed asylum in the UK, even though he has never committed a crime."

A spokesperson for VIrgin Atlantic said: “The Home Office makes the flight arrangements for all deportee passengers which includes medical clearance.

"It is not for the airline to refuse to carry a deportee passenger on the grounds of their immigration case as the airline has no knowledge of individual cases. It is for the Home Office to make immigration policy and take decisions of this nature."

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.

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