This Human Voice story forms part of CAGE’s report Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders
See the rest of the report here.
I kept saying please, I am worried about my son. She said: “He’s old enough to tell your husband if he is worried.” I kept thinking: “You don’t have kids. You have no idea.”
They led me into a separate room. She asked me if I knew why I was being stopped and if I knew about Schedule 7. I said I’ve heard, but I don’t know a lot.
She asked if I’d been stopped before, I said no. Never in my life. I said: “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
She was quite surprised, and so was her colleague. She said we are going to ask a few questions, and the interview is going to be recorded.
By this stage I was just so shocked. I was also feeling very ill. I didn’t eat or sleep on the plane, as I get sick on the plane, and I only eat when I land.
I asked how long it was going to take. She said up to six hours.
I was just so shocked.
They took my phone and my pin
She asked me if someone is coming to pick us up, and if there was anyone that needed to be informed that I was being questioned.
I said, “My husband.” She said, “I can call him.”
I thought this was so strange, because he was just a couple of rooms away, outside. Anyway, I told them to call him now as I was worried about him and my son. So they called him.
She asked if I had a phone, and I said yes, and she said they had to check it. And another lady came in and asked for my pin. And I said: “Why do you need the pin?”
I said, “I can put the pin in for you.” She said, no, no – we need the pin.
And she said, “If we ask you for something you need to give it to us.”
She gave me a leaflet and it made it clear.
I said: “I don’t really understand all this on this leaflet.” So, she offered me a solicitor.
I accepted the offer as I didn’t know my rights or what they were entitled to ask for from me.
They took my DNA and fingerprints and searched my luggage
They called someone, and after the call, the woman said: “They are pressurising me for your phone.”
This man came in and he took my phone and then he asked for my number, which I didn’t know because it was a new contract, and then he took my phone and he looked for it and found it. They asked if I have any other devices.
Another man came in and asked for my key to my luggage.
This really wasn’t nice. We have nothing to hide, but this is not nice, having your luggage searched. They took my husband and son to another room to check my luggage. I gave them the key and the code for the suitcases. I was so ill, I just wanted to be over with it.
Then she said, we need to take your DNA and fingerprints.
And she was very clever. She said: “Let’s do this quickly while we wait for the solicitor to call back.”
I really felt like a criminal then. I have never even gone through a red light, never done anything wrong. I really didn’t understand.
But at the time, I just wanted to go home. I let them do what they had to do.
She took the swab from the mouth, and my fingerprints. I was so dehydrated and ill that my fingerprints didn’t come out and we had to try several times.
They asked about my “political views”
She asked what I thought about the Westminster attack. I said it was wrong, I didn’t agree with killing innocent people.
But then she started pushing me, saying, but it was politically motivated – what do you think about that? I said, I didn’t agree with killing innocent people.
She asked about the war in Syria, Yemen – I said, oh, there is war everywhere, it’s going on all over the place.
I was so tired after all this. That night I couldn’t sleep, and I was so unwell.
I did keep telling them I wasn’t well.
The whole time, between the interview, there was this lady who kept coming in and saying to me that she was there for my welfare.
But when I said I was sick, and asked for painkillers, she said, we can’t give them to you – you can take the painkillers if you have them on you, but if you don’t have them, we can’t physically give them to you.
I didn’t have them, my husband had them – and I tried to ask her to go get them from him, but she wouldn’t do that either.
This woman also said: “I can see you have complied with the laws, and so you won’t get arrested.”
This is a person who is supposed to be looking after my welfare.
I was so worried about my son, and I kept saying please, I am worried about my son.
She said: “He’s old enough to tell your husband if he is worried.” I kept thinking: “You don’t have kids. You have no idea.”
This has an undetermined affect on children
I landed at 3.30 and I was with them for about four hours.
When they let me go, I was starving and we went and bought a sandwich and tea and I took some painkillers.
They searched my husband’s hand luggage and my son’s hand luggage. I thought that was wrong, as I was the one who was detained.
My son was so upset when I came out, he said: “Why did you take so long? What’s wrong?”
I just put on a bright face and said: “They have to ask me questions to check if I have done anything bad but I haven’t so it’s fine.” I tried to smooth it over.
But the next day, on Monday he was awake early. I asked him why. He said he was thinking about why I got stopped.
You don’t know how this affects children. My son is very quiet and shy and I think he thinks about things more than others.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)