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Press Conference: An investigation into Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre

Legal Action for Women | 05.12.2005 14:18 | Migration | London

Press Conference: A “Bleak House” for Our Times
An investigation into Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre
by Legal Action for Women
Thursday 15 December 11am,
Trinity United Reformed Church, Buck Street,
Camden Town, London NW1
Contact: 020 7482 2496, 07958 171 152

Launch of new research based on the experiences of over 130 women detained in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. The findings explode the myth that the asylum system is “fast but fair” and that most asylum seekers are “bogus”. It demonstrates that most of those deemed “bogus” have never had a chance to present their case.

Cristel Amiss, Black Women's Rape Action Project
Dr Frank Arnold, Medical Justice Network
Sarah Cutler, Bail for Immigration Detainees
Sian Evans, Women Against Rape
Anver Jeevanjee, ex-lay member of Immigration Appeals Tribunal (tbc)
Ian Macdonald QC, author of the standard text on immigration law
Paul Nettleship, Sutovic & Hartigan solicitors
Salima Sekindi, released from Yarl’s Wood in November
David Reilly, Positive Action in Housing, Glasgow
Dr Felicity de Zulueta MD, Psychiatrist, Maudsley Hospital

·Over 70% have suffered rape or other sexual violence.
·Over 20% reported other torture.
·Four women reported that they were victims of trafficking.
·Nearly half of those currently in Yarl’s Wood have been detained for longer than three months.
·57% of women had no legal representation at the time they contacted us.
·20% had lawyers who demanded money before taking further action.
·At least 12% were on the “fast-track” system.
·Approximately 16% were deported.
·Illegal deportations were attempted against two women.
·Nine women suffered injuries during violent removal attempts.
·One woman reported having been raped in prison after she was deported.
·At least 44% are mothers, of whom over half had to leave children behind in order to escape.
·At least five women were pregnant in detention.
·Women report blatant racism from staff (including being called “black monkeys”) and sexual intimidation from guards. One woman reported male staff walking into her room unannounced when she was naked.
·At least five women have tried to commit suicide whilst detained.
·Half of those currently detained have not received appropriate medical attention. The treatment one woman received after attempting suicide was plasters for her wrists.
·One woman has died from tuberculosis since being released. Other women are exhibiting symptoms.
·Three underage girls were being held because the Home Office disputes their age.
·Five women are lesbian or bisexual, and are fleeing homophobia.
·Over 10 women have physical disabilities as a result of the violence they fled.

The findings of our report are in stark contrast with the picture painted by the Home Office. Tony McNulty, Minister for Immigration, is often quoted as saying:
“People are removed only if all appeals have been heard and dismissed. . . There is free legal advice available to everybody that claims asylum at all points of the process.” He boasts in the press of comfortable rooms, people being “treated with humanity, dignity and respect . . . excellent medical facilities and detainees have access to 24-hour health care” .

By detaining traumatised women, the Home Office is ignoring its own and other official guidelines advising against the detention of “those suffering from serious medical conditions or the mentally ill; those where there is independent evidence that they have been tortured. . .” Conditions inside detention compound the trauma from which victims of torture suffer.

These figures fuel demands for an urgent and complete overhaul of the asylum process to prioritise women and children’s needs, and rights over illegal removals at any price.

3pm Thursday 15 Dec -- Protest outside Communications House Enforcement Unit, 210 Old Street, London EC1

12 noon Saturday 17 Dec -- Christmas carols & picket outside Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre, Twinwoods Road, Clapham, Bedfordshire.

For more information contact: Legal Action for Women
Crossroads Women’s Centre, PO Box 287, London NW6 5QU
Tel: 020 7482 2496 minicom/voice Fax: 020 7209 4761; 07958 152171

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