We are now in the second week of the public inquiry investigating the abuse of Brook House immigration removal centre residents in 2017. This week the inquiry will hear evidence from whistleblower Callum Tulley, whose undercover footage exposed a culture of violence and racist abuse by staff, as seen on BBC’s Panorama investigation.
Turns out having a case which streams on You Tube impresses the kids more than anything else I have ever done. So there’s that.— Nick Armstrong (@njbarmstrong) November 27, 2021
The purpose of the inquiry is to investigate whether the abuse was so serious that it breached residents’ human rights — particularly the prohibition on torture and/or inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
While Covid has delayed things, it isn’t entirely to blame. The government initially tried to keep the matter “in-house”, asking the (relatively toothless) Prisons and Probation Ombudsman to investigate. That decision was reviewed by the High Court which concluded that such an investigation fell short of the government’s duty to investigate treatment potentially breaching Article 3.
The enhanced accountability of a full-blown inquiry — a public hearing, the ability to compel witnesses to give evidence, and funding for representing participants — should help to shine a light on the extent of the abuse. And as the first inquiry looking at immigration detention, the proceedings will hopefully illuminate wider issues in detention, and the welfare of detainees in particular.