A protest against abuse in immigration detention centres in the UK will be held opposite the 10 Downing Street on 27th September 2013.
The protest has been organised by African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group. Many members of the group are refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, some of whom are being held in detention.
Edwin Sesange, coordinator of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group, said: “We strongly condemn the sexual abuse of vulnerable refugees. The Home Office has ultimate responsibility for these abuses. They happened in asylum detention centres under Home Office control. We are calling on the Prime Minister to condemn the abuses, reform the detention centre system, initiate a public inquiry and press police and prosecutors to bring charges against abusers.”
The Observer recently revealed accounts of sexually inappropriate behaviour including guards offering to assist in immigration cases in return for sexual contact at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre.
“Human rights should be universal, no matter what the immigration status of the individual. The UK is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which protect asylum seekers,” said Mr. Sesange. “The sexually inappropriate acts inflicted to those seeking refuge in the United Kingdom are a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits ‘inhuman or degrading treatment.’”
The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group wants the British government to be held to account for the torture of those seeking protection in the UK.
“The government can blame the abuses on the private contractors running the detention centres, such as Serco; however the ultimate duty of care lies with the government. It cannot escape its responsibility for what has happened,” said Mr. Sesange. “The sexual harassment allegedly suffered by vulnerable women in Yarl’s Wood detention centre are criminal offences. The perpetrators should be prosecuted.”
The group demands for a Judge led inquiry into the problems asylum seekers and immigrants face in the UK and full protection of all victims and witnesses.
“The unlawful killing of James Mubenga at the hands of Home Office-contracted security staff from the private company G4S is an example of the criminal violations that many asylum seekers face in the hands of those who are supposed to care for them,” said Mr Sesange.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said it is “very likely that sexually inappropriate behaviour by staff is happening at other detention centres, not just at Yarl’s Wood.”
The Tatchell Foundation is supporting the 27th September protest.
“The government should be held to account for the sexual abuse of those seeking refuge in the UK,” Mr. Tatchell said. “It cannot wash its hands and blame the private contractors.”
He criticised the UK’s asylum detention system describing it as “fundamentally flawed.”
“Detainees have too few rights and weak mechanisms for the redress of grievances. The private firms that run the centres are driven by the profit motive. Staff are often inadequately trained and supervised. Far too many refugees are unnecessarily detained,” said Mr. Tatchell. “It is outrageous that LGBT people who have been victims of homophobic persecution in their home countries are locked up and treated like common criminals.”
The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group is inviting all to join the protest outside 10 Downing Street on 27th September 2013 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
It’s also encouraging protestors to tweet to Prime Minister David Cameron via: @David_Cameron and @Number10gov and to email their MPs showing their anger towards the treatment of the vulnerable asylum seekers, and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament.
“We advise all those willing to attend the protest to bring banners and placards condemning these criminal acts,” said the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group.
A petition calling for full public inquiry into Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre has been launched. To sign the petition, please go to gopetition.com.
PROTEST AGAINST ABUSE IN ASYLUM DETENTION CENTRES
Venue: Richmond Terrace SW1A 2NJ opposite Prime Minister David Cameroon Residence 10 Downing Street Westminster nearest tube station Westminster, Embankment and Charing cross