Peter Gichura, father, wheelchair user and disability activist, is threatened with deportation back to Kenya, where he faces political persecution, including death threats, and the loss of the medical treatment on which his life depends. In 2006, he was detained in Harmondsworth detention centre in appalling conditions. After legal moves and pressure from supporters, he was released. He is now suing the Home Office and Kalyx, the private company running Harmondsworth. It is a test case to establish if disabled people held in detention centres and prisons before December 2006 have the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Peter Gichura was detained twice in
Harmondsworth in conditions, including: not being able to use the
bathroom and toilet properly, suffering painful and threatening body
searches and inadequate medical treatment, given the wrong
medication. Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, condemned
the conditions at Harmondsworth as “the
poorest report we have issued on an Immigration Removal Centre”
In a similar case, recent press coverage has highlighted the plight of a couple who face a rapid deterioration in their health and death, if they were deported, because the medical treatment they need (for HIV) would not be available and their young son would become an orphan (Independent, 4 April 2007).
Parliament condemns inhumane treatment
In March, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights condemned as unacceptable, “the deliberate use of inhumane treatment” in asylum policy and found that, “Asylum seekers as a group do not always get the greatest sympathy from society or the media, but what we have seen and heard provides very hard evidence of appalling treatment that no human being should suffer."
Also in March, Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People, signed the UK government up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of life, including access to justice and the right to health services. But the Home Office went against the Convention in dismissing Mr Gichura’s asylum claim, then trying to deport their opponent in a test case – a move temporarily halted by the High Court judge.
The Mayor of London, writing to
minister Liam Byrne in support of Mr Gichura, said: “I would
underline the wider social consequences of handling cases like these
in ways that entrench . . . a perception that the UK immigration
regime is unbalanced, unjust and inhumane. I recall . . .the
European Convention on Human Rights, “Everyone’s right to life shall
be protected by law.” He proposes discussion with the Home Office
“to find some more humane middle ground” than the current refusal of
medical grounds (Letter, 12 October 2006).
Campaigning with Payday and WinVisible, based at the Crossroads Women's Centre, Mr Gichura has received widespread public support. Your help is needed at this crucial time for him to win the right to stay and for his test case to go forward and be heard.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
· Send a donation to help with the costs of campaigning