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Asylum Seekers Describe the Experience of Immigration Detention as Worse than Prison

Human Rights, Detention Wrongs.

More than 250 people packed into Newton Hall, Easton, on Saturday evening to hear the words of four people who have been detained for weeks at a time under immigration rules. It was spine chilling. They told of the rounding up of detainees at night, amid screams and tears, by 4 to 6 security guards each to escort individuals to charter flights and enforce returns to countries from which they had fled. One woman, despite being pregnant and having an unusual medical condition, was denied access to her medication. Others had small children who would not eat the food that was the same every day and of very poor quality. One woman was deported while her 3 year old daughter was suffering from chicken pox. Many had no legal representation to fight their case.

Dr Christien Van den Anker, Human Rights reader at UWE, and founder of Migrnat Rights Centre Bristol, put the practice of detention into a global context and spoke of the many deaths in detention through suicide and medical neglect. She described how the refugee convention of 1951 has been changed from an instrument of protection into one of exclusion.

Shiar Youssef from Corporate Watch explained that the management of Uks 11 detention centres is contracted to private companies, who profit enormously from this business.

Adam Hundt from Pierce Glynn solicitors laid out the problems that asylum seekers face in lack of access to lawyers and in the culture of disbelief and racism. In his case-work experience 2 British nationals of Somali origin were recently detained for more than 6 months before the Home Office accepted their mistake.

The event was hosted by Bristol Refugee Rights in commemoration of International Human Rights day 10th December, and the meeting was followed by a party.

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