In a letter published in the Guardian today, Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council leads a call for the government to conduct an urgent and thorough review of detention centres and transport systems to ensure that enough safeguards are in place to protect detainees.
The letter from a number of organisations working with asylum seekers and refugees follows a BBC documentary on the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre, which heard evidence of detainees being physically and racially abused. Fifteen employees from Global Solutions Ltd, the security firm at the Oakington centre, were suspended from frontline duties just prior to the programme’s airing on Wednesday evening.
The Refugee Council, Asylum Aid, Bail for Immigration Detainees and Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture expressed their concern that the programme makers was not the first to raise concern over asylum seeker abuse in British detention centres and prisons.
They urged the government to review its policy of regularly detaining people at all stages of the asylum process, particularly families with children, and to look into alternative solutions.
Link to the letter:
Guardian website: Abuse in Oakington
Previous stories on the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre and the BBC documentary:
Guards ‘abused asylum seekers’
Fifteen employees of a company that detains and transfers asylum seekers have been withdrawn from their jobs after undercover journalists found evidence of abuse and assaults against detainees. Source: Guardian website [2 Mar 2005]
Asylum abuse is ‘not surprising’
Groups working with asylum-seekers, including the Refugee Council say they are ‘not surprised’ by allegations of abuse of inmates by staff at a detention centre. Source: BBC Online [2 Mar 2005]
Detention centre inquiry ordered
Immigration minister Des Browne has asked the prisons and probation ombudsman, Stephen Shaw, to look into allegations of racism and bullying at Oakington Immigration Reception Centre made in the BBC documentary, Real Story, on Wednesday. Source: BBC Online [3 Mar 2005]
Link to the BBC documentary:
BBC’s Real Story website includes a video download of the programme shown on Wednesday, 3 March 2005.