The recent suicides of two Albanian males at Brook House immigration removal centre and on board the Bibby Stockholm vessel respectively point to desperate conditions in immigration detention and Home Office so-called ‘non-detention’ accommodation. These incidents have tragically shed a light on the alarming risks to the mental health and well-being of Albanian asylum seekers who are vulnerable as the target of government action to reduce the flow of asylum seekers seeking protection on UK shores.

Urgent action is needed to prevent further such deaths and to ensure proper support for mental health.

MiCLU has prepared a briefing about the risks to the mental health and wellbeing of Albanian Asylum seekers, considering the wider hostile context in which their claims are being examined. Racist rhetoric following a temporary spike in the numbers of Albanians arriving by boat in 2022 has translated into measures increasingly scapegoating Albanians or disproportionately affecting Albanian asylum seekers that impact their ability to secure protection: the issue of new, contradictory government guidance and information notes, an agreement with the Albanian state, and changes to the Modern Slavery Statutory Guidance – all of which combine with and exacerbate already diminished access to legal representation. These measures look set to culminate in the implementation of S59 of the Illegal Migration Act which will have the effect of all Albanian claims being inadmissible and Albanians potentially being refouled to face persecution without ever having their claim heard.

To read our detailed briefing click here.

Recommended action includes reviews by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and the Coroner, taking into account the impact of the individuals’ nationality and asylum status, along with specific actions for the Home Office, Legal Aid Agency, and Ministry of Justice to safeguard the mental health of asylum seekers, including through:

  • Ensuring there are clear routes for third parties to raise concerns about the mental health or suicidality of detained persons;
  • Supporting decision making around the severity of an individual’s mental health conditions and the likelihood that detention could result in harm; 
  • Demonstrating that all individuals in detention are receiving timely health checks upon arrival and have access to existing prescription medication prescribed before they entered detention; and
  • Providing mental health support, while in detention, in an individual’s first language.