`Laws exist to protect animals in the UK – why are there no rules in existence to protect the people in Pennine House at Manchester Airport?'
In July this year, Tahir Mahmood, a 43 year old man from Pakistan man, died in Pennine House at Manchester Airport, the privately run 32 bed short term detention centre that lies behind Terminal 2.
TASCOR - `the largest private sector provider of secure immigration detainee escorting' – manages Pennine House, where refugees whose claims for asylum have been failed by the Home Office are held for up to seven days until they are deported or transferred to another centre…
…But within its walls there is no natural light or ventilation, women and men are held together in the same facility and the Detention Centre Rules (2001) – the key statutory instrument governing the use of detention in the UK – don't cover this shorter stay centre.
"The risk of anxiety, mental distress and even self-harm is heightened" states AVID, the charity that visits refugees in detention "People held there tell us they are worried, fearful and anxious."
RAPAR adds that "Laws exist to protect animals in the UK – why are there no rules in existence to protect the people in Pennine House at Manchester Airport?"
Given that the ten Greater Manchester local councils, including Salford, currently own the largest stake in Manchester Airport, RAPAR is petitioning them to, firstly `Tell the Home Office to publish their short term facility rules with immediate effect' and to, secondly, `Publicly commit to doing everything in their power to ensure that the official account is completely transparent and accountable about how and why Tahir Mahmood died at Pennine House'.
Last night, as Manchester Airport celebrated its first 75 years with a music event at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, RAPAR set up a stall outside to inform around five hundred guests what was going on at Pennine House.
"There was a very warm and curious reaction to RAPAR'S information and literature" said one of RAPAR reps present "Practically everyone who attended the music night took information about the man's death, and their copy of a letter to sign and send to their own MPs telling them to use their powers to make the Immigration Minister publish rules governing Pennine House.
"The audience warmth usually gave way to shock when they were told that TASCOR are working without any agreed and set out rules" they added "We were delighted with the reception from the audience. The first step to end what Pennine House currently is, is to ensure that people know it exists."
The ten RAPAR human rights educationalists who gave out the literature were met by a Tactical Aid Unit police van parked outside of Bridgewater Hall which one rep called "An extraordinary deployment of the Greater Manchester Police budget…Education is obviously perceived as a danger to the state in certain quarters."
For further details on the case of Tahir Mahmood see www.rapar.org.uk/exposing-what-happens-in-detention.html
To sign the petition see www.ipetitions.com/petition/penninehouse/