A surprise visit by the Home Affairs Committee gave many the hope to be listened to by politicians. Instead, they were locked up.
Over one hundred women detained in Yarl’s Wood have signed up a petition after the centre’s security services allegedly denied them access to a visiting group of MPs.
Members of the Home Affairs Committee made a surprise visit to the facilities on Monday. The Westminster convoy was headed by the chair of the Committee, Labour backbencher Yvette Cooper, and two MPs.
According to the Movement For Justice campaign, security company Serco, which manages the facilities, lied to the detained women and then locked them away and out of reach from the politicians.
Detained women told campaigners that while a handful of people were able to speak to the Labour politician, most were told to stay in their rooms. Originally some detainees were also told the visit was from “the Queen’s godson” and that “it had nothing to do with [detainees].”
Transcript: to @YvetteCooperMP and the @CommonsHomeAffs members. RE: Request for a visit to #Yarlswood in order to get a true picture of what is happening to Detainees (2/9) pic.twitter.com/uF2CFrbeTs
— Movement for Justice (@followMFJ) 21 May 2018
Later the women were also told they had been “disorderly” and that they had lost their right to speak to the visiting politicians.
A quickly written statement, signed by 102 of Yarl’s Wood’s inmates, reads:
“To Yvette Cooper and the Committee Members,
“RE Request for a visit to Yarl’s Wood in order to get a true picture of what is happening to detainees.”
The group then demands an audience with the politicians, saying:
“We ask Yvette and the Committee to come back and speak to detainees one to one basis. We want them to get the real picture of what is happening in Yarl’s Wood.”
The signatures of the detained women follow.
It is not the first time that Yarl’s Wood detainees have asked to meet the Committee chair, who has become increasing active in matters of immigration. Back in March, hunger strikers in the detention centre called on the Committee to investigate Serco, as well as “question the Home Office and Immigration Minister” on the detention regime and living conditions in Yarl’s Wood.
Left Foot Forward contacted Copper’s office for comment but is yet to hear back.
Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.
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