22 October 2020
A new report by the migrants' rights organisation Movement for Justice, based on interviews with 20 people held in the Yarl's Wood detention centre after arriving in the UK by crossing the Channel, says that people are not being provided with legal advice until the very last minute - and that the government's claims that "lefty lawyers" are using last-minute appeals to frustrate deportations are in fact the only option many people have to prevent unlawful removal from the UK.
MFJ report on the treatment of cross Channel refugees in repurposed Yarl’s Wood highlights lack of access to legal advice and failure to identify victims of trafficking and torture (Movement for Justice, link):
"Since August 2020 there have been no more women detained in Yarl’s Wood and the Home Office confirmed that its small short term holding facility was expanded to process cross channel refugees.
The report we release today is the first public insight into the new regime and is the result of four weeks of discussions with 20 refugees who were detained in Yarl’s Wood during September 2020.
Over half of those we spoke to had been victims of torture or trafficking; many had been enslaved in Libya and subject to brutal torture, forced labour and rape. They spent 5-7 days in Yarl’s Wood.
During this time, no one was provided with access to a solicitor; the Detention Duty Advice Scheme (DDAS) was not functioning. Some were given a list of numbers after several days but lack of phone credit and language difficulties meant it was impossible for them to secure representation.
People are moved to other accommodation with no representation, no support, and in many cases with no phones. They are dispersed to areas where charities are overstretched and where legal aid immigration solicitors either have no capacity or are few and far between. Language difficulties and lack of phone or phone credit makes it impossible for many to find the legal advice, medical help and support they need.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Home Office have been vocally critical of ‘last minute legal claims’ which ‘frustrate’ removals; this report reveals the truth, that people are denied legal advice at an early stage and victims of trafficking are not being identified. For these refugees a ‘last minute claim,’ when they are taken to Brook House and given notice of a flight, is the only way to stop what would be an unlawful removal."
Full report: The new regime: Yarl's Wood as a short term holding facility for cross channel refugees (link to pdf)
See also: Channel asylum seekers not given access to legal advice until days before deportation, research finds (Independent, link):
"Asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on small boats are receiving no access to legal advice until days before they are due to be deported from the country, new research shows.
Home secretary Priti Patel has been critical of “last-minute legal claims” which “frustrate” removals – but a report by an immigration rights group reveals that in many cases the first time Channel migrants only have the opportunity to speak to a lawyer in the days before deportation."
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