`Organisation has deplorable track record’: Unity 16th August 2011: Shrouded in controversies worldwide and facing allegations of human rights abuses, sexual assault and negligence in the US, the GEO group has won the contract to manage Dungavel immigration removal centre. Near Strathaven, it is operated by the UK Border Agency, but its management is sub-contracted out.
Already, the firm manages the Guantanamo Bay Migrant Operations Centre, and private jails in the US. But it lost a contract to run six immigration centres in Australia following a series of alleged scandals involving rioting, racism and assault
A camp in the middle of the Australian desert, Woomera was, rather, closed down after receiving criticism from human rights organisations. The claims of sex abuse remained unproved. But a government inquiry was launched.
As the company gears up to take over the running of Dungavel in September for five years after bagging the contract worth £25 million, the politicians condemned the Government’s decision.
Reacting, Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar said the decision to give control of an immigration centre in Scotland to a company with so many allegations against them in relation to human rights shows a staggering lack of judgment. The Scottish people will be horrified by this decision.
Dungavel holds back asylum seekers with turned down applications prior to their removal and already voices can be heard loud and clear for its closure.
In fact, numerous campaigns have been going on to close down the centre, as the campaigners believe it is inhumane to "imprison" immigrants as if they are common criminals.
Chris Dempster of campaign group Unity insisted giving the contract to an organisation with such a deplorable track record was further evidence of how little the Government cared for the welfare of immigration detainees.
Managing director of GEO UK Ltd Walter MacGowan, on the other hand, said the GEO Group manages approximately 80,000 custodial and detention beds at 115 facilities worldwide.
No custodial or detention system is immune to incidents and challenges inherent in the management of offender populations, and it would unfair to judge an organisation’s record based on individual incidents rather than its overall record."
A UK Border Agency spokesman, meanwhile, said: "We expect the highest standard of service from our suppliers. We are satisfied that GEO have delivered this as a tried and tested provider."