What does a lonely, squalid death in an immigration centre say about Britain?
Prince Fosu was neglected for six days until he died, naked and starving. We cannot treat people with such inhumanity
Dostoevsky said a society’s civilisation can be judged by its prisons. I would add this: a society’s humanity can be judged by its immigration removal centres.
What does it say about us that a man who entered Britain on a valid business visa – with all the optimism and ambition that entails – died emaciated, dehydrated and in a state of utter despair, at a detention centre near Heathrow.
That Prince Kwabena Fosu’s story could unfold in modern Britain is hard to comprehend. A 31-year-old Ghanaian national, he was experiencing a psychiatric crisis so acute that – it was said during the inquest – even someone with no expertise would have noticed. He was taken to the Harmondsworth centre, where staff instead labelled him disruptive – his mental health was never assessed – and placed him in segregation, where for six days he lay naked on a concrete floor, not eating, drinking or sleeping. He died on 30 October 2012, emaciated, from hypothermia, dehydration and malnourishment, weighing only 47kg, having lost 15% of his body weight in less than a week.