As Dungavel detention centre is set to close, campaigners warn of inhumane nature of replacement
CAMPAIGNERS have formed a coalition to prevent a new detention centre being set up for those in Scotland waiting for their asylum cases or appeals to be heard.
The facility near Paisley, Renfrewshire is intended to be a replacement for the controversial Dungavel detention centre which the Home Office confirmed in September would close.
However, the group Stop Detention Scotland state that the facility – known as a “rapid removal centre” – would make it more difficult for those detained to exercise their right to appeal deportation.
“There is no place for immigration prison in a society that respects human rights.” Stop Detention Scotland
In an open letter to the Scottish Government, the group said: “Immigration detention is unnecessary, expensive, and inhumane. There is a common misconception that detention centres are only used to detain and remove those who have failed to gain asylum.
“In reality, they are used to imprison those waiting for a decision on their asylum claim or those who still have a right to appeal. Every year thousands of people who, according to the Home Office’s own rules, should not be detained – survivors of torture, people with severe mental health problems, children and women more than 6 months pregnant – are detained.
“There is no place for immigration prison in a society that respects human rights.”
Based near Glasgow Airport, the new 51 bedroom detention center will have a “7-day turnaround” which could result in Dungavel detainees being transferred to other UK removal centres, far from their family members and legal advisors.
Campaigners also claim that there is an increased risk of detainees being deprived of all opportunities to exhaust their right to appeal because of the speed of the new process.
It will also be much more difficult for those detained in Scotland to exercise their right to appeal and to properly challenge their deportation.
“There is a common misconception that detention centres are only used to detain and remove those who have failed to gain asylum.” Stop Detention Scotland
The proposal for the Paisley centre came from Robert Goodwill MP, the UK Government minister for immigration, and has been condemned by the Scottish Government. The Home Office has been forced to apologise for failing to consult the Scottish Government, Renfrewshire Council, or local residents about this decision. But the proposal has not yet been withdrawn.
30,000 migrants are detained in “enclosed facilities” each year making the UK one of the largest imprisoners of asylum seekers. Additionally, campaigners state that the figures from the Home Office show that the manner in which detainees are kept, leads to abuse, problems with isolation, mental health and physical well-being.
Since 2007, there have been 26 deaths in UK immigration detention centres and 2,293 attempted suicides in the past 10 years. On top of this 75 per cent of centers are run by private companies which cost the tax payer £164.4m a year to run. The most infamous example of this was at Dungavel which was exposed by the campaign group Corporate Watch for paying the refugees £1 an hour for services such as dry cleaning, laundry and cooking.
“We call on the Scottish Government to use this opportunity to formulate a Home Affairs policy for Scotland that respects human rights and consigns detention to history.”
Figures show that detainees at the centre in South Lanarkshire worked a total of 52,858 hours over 12 months between 2013 and October 2014. The equivalent amount paid by private American firm GEO, which ran the centre, was £52,858.
Despite immigration policy being reserved to Westminster and the UK Government the group said it expects the Scottish Government to start making its own plans for immigration in the light of prospective powers.
The campaign group added: “We look forward to the imminent closure of Dungavel. It needs no replacement. We call on the Scottish Government to use this opportunity to formulate a Home Affairs policy for Scotland that respects human rights and consigns detention to history.”
Picture courtesy of Darren Johnson
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