High Court rules the detention of mentally ill man was inhumane and degrading treatment

For the third time in less than a year, the High Court, this week, ruled that the detention of a severely mentally ill migrant constituted inhuman and degrading treatment – breaching Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The mental health of HA, a Nigerian man, deteriorated dramatically in detention between August 2009 and July 2010.  It was clear by January 2010 that he needed urgently to be transferred to a mental health unit in hospital, but this did not happen for six months.

During his time in detention, HA was repeatedly transferred between detention centres, including in four different centres in the space of two weeks.  His admission to hospital may also have been delayed by a transfer out of a centre with an upcoming Inspection by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. The transfer occurred shortly after UKBA officials discussed concerns that he would be seen sleeping in the toilet area by inspectors.

After he finally accessed hospital treatment he was re-detained, despite abundant evidence that any improvements in his mental health would be undone by further detention.

The High Court also found unlawful the Home Office’s new policy that seriously mentally ill migrants can be detained when their conditions can be satisfactorily managed in detention.