EHID is saddened to hear of the death of Oscar Okwurime at Harmondsworth immigration detention centre on Thursday 12th September. According to media reports Mr Okwurime died soon after receiving notice of deportation on a charter flight to Nigeria this Tuesday.
We await the outcome of investigations into Mr Okwurime’s death and cannot draw conclusions at this point about this incident specifically. But this is the latest in a long line of deaths at the UK’s deadliest immigration detention centre and across the detention system: between 1989 and 2017 nine people died while detained at Harmondsworth, and five at the neighbouring Colnbrook detention centre (since 2014 they have been operated as a combined Heathrow detention centre by Mitie Care and Custody), out of a total of 34 deaths in immigration detention documented in this period by the Institute of Race Relations. Frequently these deaths are a result of the severe impact of detention on the mental health of people who were often vulnerable even before being detained; in 2018 at the Heathrow detention centres there were 233 incidents of self-harm requiring medical treatment.
Our thoughts are with Oscar Okwurime’s friends and family inside and outside Harmondsworth, and with all detained people. We call again for Harmondsworth, Colnbrook and all detention centres to be closed to put an end to the suffering and injustice they create.