Theresa May has been enjoying walking in the Alps. But while headline after headline has obsessed about what she’s wearing, most ignored the fact that the High Court has ruled that her government broke the law. And it’s the second time in a week that the government has been taken to court and found guilty.
A Kenyan asylum seeker who was being held at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre brought the case after being placed in segregation for 28 hours.
Women are locked up at Yarl’s Wood if they are asylum seekers whose claims have been refused or immigrants waiting to be deported. These include women who, for example, are found to have overstayed on their visas. Many have been imprisoned or have suffered horrific experiences in their home countries.
One woman described the experience:
When I got there, I looked at the environment, the way they were guarding us, how they watched us every minute, how they spoke to us. It was really horrible. I kept on thinking: why have they done this to me? I have not killed anyone, I just want to stay in this country
Across different sites, the UK has one of the largest immigration detention capabilities in Europe. In 2016, 28,900 people were locked up.
But there are strict rules on segregation in asylum detention centres. It is allowed, but only for 24 hours. After that, isolation has to be authorised by the Home Office. But this did not happen. And the High Court found her human rights were breach and she was held unlawfully.
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Speaking about her treatment, the woman claimed:
I refused to go with the escorts because my immigration case was still going through the courts and no final decision had been made. The staff said I was not compliant. There was no bedding and just a rusty toilet in the cell they put me in. I was freezing cold.
And she says that what happened has had a lasting impact on her, including anxiety, depression and PTSD:
For a while after my release from detention I was too frightened to leave the house.
This woman, along with the majority of others at detention centres, had not committed any crime.
Shut it down!
And while swathes of the media focus on May’s clothes, they are ignoring the fact that her government and the department she ran for six years are in court once again.
Campaigners have long been calling for immigration detention centres to be shut down – because it is disgusting that these centres exist. And we should all be campaigning for asylum seekers to be treated with dignity and respect rather than locked up and vilified.
– Support No Borders!
– Support the campaign to shut Yarl’s Wood.
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