Another asylum seeker relocated from Napier barracks after court order | Immigration and asylum

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An asylum seeker and victim of torture held in a controversial army barracks has been urgently rehoused following a high court ruling, lawyers have said.

In the second such move this week, a high court judge ordered the relocation of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, from Napier barracks near Folkestone, Kent, into hotel accommodation.

The privately-run barracks has been used to accommodate around 400 asylum seekers since September and last month experienced a significant Covid-19 outbreak, affecting at least one in four of the men inside.

The legal team representing the rehoused claimant argued in written submissions to the court that he has been forced to sleep in the “overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsuitable” former army barracks and was subjected to “prison-like conditions”.

On Wednesday, the court ordered the relocation of the man within 24 hours, which has now been completed.

The Home Office, which contracts the private firm Clearsprings to run the site, has been approached for comment.

Clare Jennings of Matthew Gold solicitors, who represents the claimant, said: “No one should be subjected to the conditions at Napier barracks, and certainly not those seeking sanctuary in the UK having suffered unimaginable horrors.

“A Covid outbreak at the barracks was all but inevitable. But the abject failure to take any meaningful steps to protect these men from catching Covid-19 is truly shocking.

“Instead of protecting residents, the gates were locked and they were left trapped inside, with no option but to share bedrooms and facilities.

“We welcome the court’s decision that our client should be moved immediately, but call on the secretary of state, Priti Patel, to do the right thing and close down these barracks.”

The legal team claimed that after the Covid-19 outbreak, instead of immediately putting in place measures to protect residents, the asylum seekers were locked in the barracks and the virus was “allowed to run rampant”.

An oral hearing will be held later this month, where the court will rule whether the claims should proceed to a full judicial review.

The court will be asked to consider whether the conditions in the barracks breach the claimant’s human rights and meet his essential living needs as required by section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

The court will also be asked to determine whether the man has suffered inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether he has been lawfully deprived of his liberty and falsely imprisoned.

The barracks is not a detention centre but “initial accommodation”, purportedly intended to hold men for a short time as they await a decision on their claims for asylum before they are moved on. The men were previously free to come and go from the site to access services in the community, but the gates have now been locked since mid-January.

The Home Office started housing asylum seekers at Napier barracks and a sister site at Penally barracks, in Pembrokeshire, in September. Ministers and officials have faced repeated warnings from humanitarian organisations and healthcare professionals over significant risks posed by Covid-19 at the sites, which have also been dogged by allegations of overcrowding and poor conditions.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Another asylum seeker relocated from Napier barracks after court order | Immigration and asylum

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