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Report highlights abuse of women detainees

26 June 2015


Well-trodden path: pilgrims on the "Refugee Tales" walk, last week 

Well-trodden path: pilgrims on the "Refugee Tales" walk, last week 

A DOSSIER that details a decade of complaints from women who claim to have suffered sexual abuse and harassment by guards at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre was published last week, as protesters called for an end to the detention of all asylum-seekers, and the closure of the centre.

The report contains complaints collected by two campaign groups - Women Against Rape, and Black Women's Rape Action Project - and includes statements from women describing how strip searches and suicide watches were routinely used to humiliate women detainees.

The dossier was sent to all MPs and campaigners. But when representatives from the groups tried to deliver it to Downing Street, they were turned away by police.

A High Court judge on 12 June ruled that fast-track detention of asylum-seekers was "unlawful". Mr Justice Nicol, ruling on a case brought by the campaign group Detention Action, said: "In my judgement, the Fast Track Rules [FTR] do incorporate structural unfairness. They put the appellant at a serious procedural disadvantage."

The Government has said that it will appeal against the ruling, and the judge has put a "stay" on his judgment, which means that the fast-track system remains in operation.

Another protest against detention is taking place this week, in the form of a walk along the old Pilgrim's Way from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury, accompanied by readings of new tales, written in the style of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

A number of authors, including Ali Smith, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Marina Lewycka, are taking part in the walk. They have written the new tales in collaboration with those who have experienced life as an asylum-seeker in the UK.

These include various stages of the migrant experience: The Arriver's Tale, The Detainee's Tale, The Appellant's Tale, and The Deportee's Tale; and the tales of people who work with refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK: The Interpreter's Tale, The Solicitor's Tale, The Dependent's Tale, and The Lorry Driver's Tale.

Each evening of the journey, a tale is being told, and hundreds of people are turning out to hear the readings.

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