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Home office reps roasted by angry, well-informed Campsfield detainees

transmitter | 02.08.2007 15:45 | Migration | Oxford

Following Tuesday night's large, disciplined yard-protest and Wednesday morning's hunger strike, two Home Office representatives were called to Campsfield on Wednesday afternoon to hear the detainees' grievances. The pair, including the Assistant Director of Escorting Services at the Borders and Immigration Authority (Philip Schoelenberger?) were confronted by an angry, articulate, multi-national delegation of 22 detainees in a meeting that lasted 2 and a half hours.

The stunned Home Office representatives promised to respond to the detainees' grievances within 48 hours, on the understanding that further demonstrations would be put on hold until 3:30pm on Friday.

Here is a summary of the detainees' demands:

1. The detainees demand temporary admission. According to the Government's own rules the majority of them are being held illegally because they cannot be deported, nor is their detention a "last resort" measure. The Home Office is also in
breach of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 5 (the right to liberty) and Article 8 (the right to family life - around half of those detained at Campsfield have families, yet are detained for no compelling reason, often for months, causing great and predictable hardship).

Many detainees' families and friends have offered substantial sureties; there is no conceivable reason why they would (or could) abscond; even so they are refused bail.

2. Some detainees have accepted "voluntary" repatriation. Even so, the Home Office persists in detaining them - for over 3 months in many cases. These people have surely suffered enough and should be allowed to return immediately.

3. There is complete loss of confidence in the Immigration Court at Newport, South Wales, where all Campsfield bail applications are now heard and all but 5% are dismissed. Judges there are said to have a contemptuous attitude and use
racist language toward detainees. The exceptionally high refusal rates can only be
explained, it is felt, by entrenched racism.

Families must make long, expensive journeys to get to Newport (£150 return from London; those making longer journeys may have to stay overnight) only to see their loved one re-detained.

It is felt that the decision to move Campsfield bail hearings to Newport was malicious retaliation for the widely-publicised protests in March this year.

The detainees want future bail hearings to be held, as they were previously, at either London or Birmingham Immigration Courts.

4. They demand an end to the squalid and overcrowded conditions. Frequently men are held 3 to a room and sometimes up to 7 in a room. The inadequate toilets and showers have become health-hazards. In these conditions infections spread rapidly - the more so as healthcare provision is also completely inadequate. Paracetamol is prescribed for almost any condition, and sometimes not even that is available.

The detainees also sent a fax, on Tuesday, to the European Court of Human Rights, Liberty, Justice,
Campsfield's MP Evan Harris, and the Secretary of
State. This can be forwarded on request.

For more information, contact 01865 726804 or 01865 558145

To find out more about the 'Close Campsfield' campaign, visit our website at
To contact the group, you can email

- e-mail: transmitter