Army barracks used to house asylum seekers should be opened to proper inspections, processes of transparency and accountability the shadow home secretary has said after it was alleged that the Home Office was attempting to silence volunteers who have access to the site.
Volunteers have been told they must sign confidentiality agreements underpinned by the Official Secrets Act if they want to access Napier barracks in Folkestone, Kent, and the barracks at Penally, Pembrokeshire.
Hundreds of migrants are living on the sites being run by the private firm Clearsprings Ready Homes while they wait on their asylum applications being processed.
According to there have been hunger strikes, suicide attempts, unrest and regular medical emergencies among residents in the camp.
Stephen Hale, the chief executive of Refugee Action, called for the barracks to be closed down. He said: “Home Office ministers should focus on fixing the inhumane conditions in asylum accommodation rather than sanctioning the gagging of volunteers.
“These squalid barracks are detention in all but name and are not suitable for housing vulnerable human beings, especially in the middle of a pandemic. They must be closed down as soon as possible.”
Lisa Doyle, the director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “We’re shocked by reports that the Home Office feels the need to employ the Official Secrets Act to prevent volunteers from talking about what they see at Napier barracks.
“The residents at the barracks have fled war, persecution and trauma, and must be treated with dignity and respect. If the Home Office is doing this, why insist on this type of confidentiality agreement?”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We rejected these claims entirely.”
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This content was sourced from Unity News Network.