Nick Clegg condemns Campsfield expansion plans

first_imgDEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Nick Clegg has spoken out against the expansion of Campsfield House Immigration detention Centre, arguing that there is not a “clear case” for the proposals.Clegg declared, “The Home Office needs to improve the speed and accuracy of immigration and asylum decisions. This will reduce demand, help save money, and mean we can eventually close centres such as Campsfield House.”The prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, Layla Moran, supported his remarks. She said, “I am delighted the Deputy Prime Minister has backed our calls. The ‘needs case’ for this expansion is now even less convincing.”His decision to speak out against existing plans contrasts with Prime Minister David Cameron’s response to an open letter from 21 local organizations in December, which called for the withdrawal of plans to expand the detentioncentre.  In the reply, the Head of Detention Operations at the Home Office, Karen Abdel-Hady, confirmed that a planning application had been submitted and that if approved, would “provide modern accommodation and facilities” and “meet the strategic objectives of immigration enforcement”.Abdel-Hady’s response went on to defend the Immigration Removal Centre, arguing, “Detention and removal are essential and effective parts of immigration control but it’s vital it’s done with humanity and dignity.”Having previously expressed her disappointment at the response from the Home office, an Oxford researcher working on deportation and immigration detention was this time “extremely pleased” with the Deputy Prime Minister’s decision to speak out against proposals to double the size of Campsfield.Dr. Melanie Griffiths told Cherwell, “The UK is unique in Europe for having no maximum time limit for immigration detention, meaning that people have no idea how long they might be detained for, with many incarcerated for months or even years. It is also an extremely costly process, at £36,000 per detainee per year, and causes immense damage to individuals and their families.’’ “Given all this, rather than seek to expand detention space yet further, we should be looking into cheaper and more civilised means of operating an immigration system. I welcome Clegg’s recognition that we should call for the end of this cruel practice.”She went on to say, “Depriving a person of their liberty simply for administrative inconvenience is abhorrent.”Oxford University’s Amnesty International was equally keen to back Clegg’s comments, with their President commenting, “We are pleased that the Deputy PM has condemned the expansion plans and hope this representsa growing trend.”“UK law and the Home Office’s own policy guidance clearly state that detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary. Yet these recent rapid expansions suggest that rather than ‘sparingly’, detention is being increasingly relied upon to warehouse migrants simply for administrative reasons, a proportion of whom will never be removedfrom the UK.”Dr. Griffiths was keen to encourage people to express their views on the issue using the Detention Forum website.A statement prepared by OUSU’s Student Executive Officers about the expansion plans declares, “Campsfield House should not be expanded: it should be closed down. Detainees at Campsfield report frequent abuse – just last month the detainees themselves staged a protest against the violent treatment of one of their number – and are systematically denied their basic rights. That Campsfield is run for profit by a private company is also troubling.“Migrants are not criminals. Many of the detainees in Campsfield faced persecution in their countries of origin and came to Britain needing our help. As a country, we are under an obligation not to mistreat them. Sadly, our immigration policy remains inhumane, and places like Campsfield are testament to that.“That is why it is the position of OUSU to oppose Campsfield House, and therefore we deplore plans for its expansion. We are glad that many Oxford students and academics – including nine heads of colleges – agree with us on this issue, and we will continue to lobby the government to close Campsfield.”The planning application for the extension to Campsfield has been deferred to the Cherwell District Council planning committee meeting on February 19th because the applicants ‘need more time to resolve the highways issue’.Neither the offices of David Cameron nor the Liberal Democrat party responded to requests for comment.last_img

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