High Court will hear Yarl’s Wood abuse case
Source: Public Interest Lawyers, Press Release – 18 March 2010
On 1 March, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) issued an unprecedented human rights case in the High Court challenging the indeterminate and inhumane detention of women and children at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and at Holloway Prison. The case confronts the policy and practice of the Home Office and the private company, Serco.
Earlier today, the High Court confirmed that the case would proceed to a full hearing on an urgent basis. The Judge, Mrs Justice Davies, also granted permission to Liberty, a leading human rights organisation, to intervene in what will be an extremely important case in terms of holding the Government to account for the way it treats immigrants.
The allegations include the following:
- That women and children have been held in squalid, prison-like conditions for between two weeks and one year without any indication as to when they might be released;
- That detainees have been subjected to racist slurs by Serco staff who called them “black monkeys” and “Chinese monkeys”;
- That over 70 women were locked for several hours in a hot, airless corridor during a peaceful protest and forced to urinate and vomit where they stood. Several women collapsed but received no medical assistance, and a window was slammed on one detainee’s finger, ripping her nail off. One of PIL’s clients was beaten by guards using riot shields as she and 18 other women were detained outside in the snow for over four hours;
- That terrified children were not treated for diarrhoea and locked in their cells for long periods, having been arrested during dawn raids and moved to Yarl’s Wood in secured vans;
- That one woman was held in solitary confinement for almost four weeks following a peaceful protest; and
- That detainees have routinely had their legal correspondence opened and read by guards.
Today, Jim Duffy, a solicitor at PIL, welcomed the Court’s decision:
“Serco and the Home Office will now be forced to explain in open court how the abuse and despair that these women and children have been forced to endure squares with national and international human rights standards. Given the evidence of a systematic disregard for human dignity, it will be a tall order.”
For further information, please contact:
Jim Duffy or Phil Shiner on 0121 515 5069.