Three investigations have been opened after the death of a 37-year-old Albanian immigrant, the Interior Ministry said.
The man, who died on Friday, had attempted suicide just over a week ago at Brook House detention center near Gatwick Airport and was later taken to London Hospital. East Surrey, where he was treated in the intensive care unit.
On Saturday morning, the Interior Ministry confirmed the man’s death. Police, the coroner and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman have launched investigations.
A protest was held at Brook House, which was recently the subject of a critical public inquiry, staffed mainly by Albanian inmates, after the attempted suicides of the man and a second Albanian.
The second man was deported shortly after his suicide attempt, but was immediately returned to the UK after a legal challenge brought by his lawyer, who sought to have his deportation order overturned. The Home Office took him back to Brook House after agreeing to defer his deportation.
A psychologist’s report seen by the Guardian urged the Home Office to carry out a full clinical assessment before deporting the man.
“Failure to do so could result in irreparable harm to one’s psychological and physical well-being,” the report said.
An Albanian detainee involved in the protest said the two men who attempted suicide feared for their safety because of imminent plans to send them back to Albania.
“One of them told me he would rather die in the UK than be sent back to Albania. Our treatment in detention is not good. We are not animals; we are humans,” he said.
The Home Office has frequently cited what it describes as its “historic joint communiqué” with Albania signed on 13 December 2022 to speed up the removals of Albanian nationals who they believe are in the UK illegally and returning to their country of origin.
However, lawyers and human rights campaigners have warned that many Albanians who have sought asylum in the UK for reasons such as trafficking or blood feuds are at risk if they are forcibly returned to their country of origin.
Esme Madill, a lawyer at the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit based at the Islington Law Centre, said the news about the Albanian man who was treated in hospital after a suicide attempt and died on Friday evening had sparked fear among Albanians seeking refuge in the United Kingdom. “This case has had a real impact on the vulnerable young Albanian victims of trafficking we work with, who fear the lack of judicial oversight and believe this is what awaits them,” she said.
“We are very concerned that the current designation of Albania as a safe country under the Illegal Immigration Law increases the sense of hopelessness among the young people we work with and we fear that such incidents will become more frequent. »
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the deceased. The well-being of everyone in our care is of the utmost importance. Any death in immigration detention is a tragic event and will be investigated by the police, the coroner, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
On March 26, 2023, Frank Ospina, a 39-year-old Colombian man, died in Heathrow immigration detention center. He also allegedly committed suicide.