14 thoughts on “Filthy private prison for refugees in England

  1. Saturday, 5 March 2016

    Refugee crisis doubles

    THE number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe has doubled to 1,255,600 during 2015, figures released yesterday show.

    Imperialist wars in Iraq Afghanistan and Libya as well as the war in Syria have driven over a million refugees and their families from their homes, with even more fleeing this year.

    Thousands more refugees are arriving in Greece from Turkey each and every day.
    More than 12,000 are now stranded in northern Greece on the border with Macedonia, as EU countries have erected razor wire fences to keep them out.

    Heavy rain has now flooded parts of the makeshift camp on the Greek side of the border. The bad weather has made an extremely bad situation worse, with children and the elderly worst affected.

    Syrian refugee Intisar Ali, who is nine-months pregnant, said: ‘This camp is full of water, so the people come in here, there are now seven people in this tent, we are soaking wet and it is so cold.

    ‘And you see our clothes, all of this, full of water and we do not have anywhere to go.’
    Another refugee, Taha, also from Syria, said: ‘You can swim and sleep at the same time!’

    Meanwhile in the UK, Tory Home Secretary Theresa May has won an appeal to send Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan, the very country they are running for their lives from. The appeal saw a blanket ban on deportation overturned. The ruling means that Afghanistan is now deemed to be ‘safe enough for asylum seekers to be returned’.

    The blanket ban, was imposed last year as the number of Afghan civilians killed and wounded passed 11,000 in 2015, the highest number recorded since the United States-led invasion more than 14 years ago.

    This year violence and murders in the country have reached new heights. Even the US director of national intelligence James Clapper warned that ‘Afghanistan is at serious risk of a political breakdown during 2016, occasioned by mounting political, economic and security challenges’.

    According to a leaked document accessed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), even the Afghan government has pleaded with the UK authorities not to resume deportation.

    The overturning of the blanket ban is a poisonous attack on Afghan refugees who face the real prospect of being killed on their return. The ban stemmed from a 2015 case brought by an Afghan asylum seeker known as ‘HN’, who arrived in Britain as a minor in 2007.

    In the UK refugees who are under 18-years-old are given a ‘temporary leave to remain’. The day that they turn 18 the Home Office moves to deport them. HN’s lawyer Toufique Hossain said: ‘The Home Office’s intention now will be to remove people to Afghanistan, there’s no doubt about that.’



  2. Saturday, 5 March 2016

    Refugees branded as ‘illegals’ by EU

    THIS week, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, threatened that the EU would deport the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing imperialist war in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

    Tusk delivered his threat in Athens after a meeting with the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, where he promised EU money to Greece to help deal with the refugee crisis.

    Tusk made a dramatic appeal aimed at what he called ‘potential illegal economic migrants’ saying: ‘Do not come to Europe. Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece, or any other European country will no longer be a transit country.’

    Following this appeal was the threat by Tusk the following day in Turkey that only ‘a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants’ would effectively ‘break the business model of the (people) smugglers’.

    Tusk was outlining the plans of the EU for the mass deportation of those deemed ‘illegal economic migrants’, sending them back to the countries they have fled to escape the carnage wrought by imperialism in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

    The hundreds and thousands of men, women and children who have lost everything and risked their lives in the hazardous sea crossing to Greece, are not ‘economic migrants’.

    They are the victims of imperialism which has torn their countries apart to smash up the secular governments of the region to facilitate the domination of its oil wealth by US and European capitalism.

    Tusk’s three day visit to Greece and Turkey has set out the murderous plans the EU has developed to deal with the ‘refugee crisis’. With Macedonia sealing its border with razor wire to prevent the 10,000 people stuck there from moving on, Tsipras is being offered £544 million in ‘emergency aid’ to turn Greece into one vast holding camp for refugees – more like a concentration camp.

    Or as Tsipras described it – ‘a warehouse for souls’ penned up by army and police, awaiting deportation back to the war zones they fled. In Turkey, Tusk reiterated a previous pledge of EU money and the prospect of that country being fast-tracked into joining the EU on the proviso that the reactionary Erdogan regime, the biggest supporter of the jihadist terrorists in Syria, stop refugees from leaving Turkey and crossing the Mediterranean.

    This can only be achieved by shooting down and sinking boats carrying them. While Tusk was demonising refugees and outlining the plans of the ruling class to turn Europe into an armed fortress, in the US the commander of the imperialist war machine, NATO, was telling the Senate Armed Services Committee, that refugees were in fact ‘Russian weapons’.

    General Phil Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and head of the US European Command, told the committee that they were nothing more than weapons of Russia and the Syrian government who are ‘deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve’.

    Turning reality on its head, Breedlove claimed that the refugee crisis is a result of Russian bombing and nothing to do with the five-year-long war instigated by US, British and French imperialism intended to repeat the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya through bombing and the use of jihadist terrorist groups armed and supported by the imperialists and their Gulf feudalist allies.

    Far from creating the refugees, the Russian bombing campaign, which only started on September 30 last year at the request of the legitimate Syrian government, has dealt deadly blows against ISIS and created the conditions for a military victory over them, stymieing imperialist plans for regime change, and creating the conditions for Syrians to remain in their own country.

    The working class will reject these lies that paint refugees as the enemy. The enemy of the working class of Europe and Britain is not the millions of people driven out of their homes by imperialist wars but capitalism which, in its final most degenerate imperialist stage, can only survive through wars to re-conquer the world and its resources.

    Only by putting an end to imperialism through the victory of the socialist revolution can humanity advance and put an end forever to imperialist slaughter.



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  4. Wednesday, 2 March 2016

    ‘Shut down Harmondsworth’

    ‘SHUT down Harmondsworth immigration centre!’ demanded the Movement for Justice yesterday, in response to a damning report which exposed the centre as being filthy and insect-ridden with a ‘desolate’ atmosphere.

    The privately-run detention facility is situated in West Drayton, west London where as many as 661 male refugees are being incarcerated. The centre is run by private contractor MITIE Care and Custody on behalf of the Home Office.

    The report by Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke states that detainees are being held in cockroach-infested rooms for long periods of time, with mattresses crawling with bedbugs. The report describes the detention centre as having dirty, overcrowded and poorly ventilated residential units with a ‘desolate air’, and unsanitary toilets and showers.

    Nearly half of detainees said they had felt depressed or suicidal on arrival. Some detainees were held for over a year, with one man held for five years. Asylum seekers who are being held at the centre have committed no crime. They are only trying to get a better life for themselves and their families in the UK.

    The chief inspector said: ‘It is unacceptable that conditions were allowed to decline so much. The Home Office and its contractors have a responsibility to ensure this does not happen again.’

    The report found some men were held at Harmondsworth for an ‘unreasonably long’ time, including 18 men who had been detained for more than a year and one man who had been held on separate occasions for a total of five years.

    Movement for Justice said: ‘We have had nine demonstrations to shut down Harmondsworth centre, the largest detention centre complex in Europe – the main centre holding detainees on Fast-Track, a system designed to deport as many people as possible as quickly as possible, a system that has been found thoroughly unlawful in the High Court. Movement for Justice is committed to building the movement to end detention both inside and outside of the detention centres and we know we can win!’

    Meanwhile asylum seekers in Scotland have allegedly been locked out of their homes by a private company Orchard & Shipman (O&S) in order to clear out ‘overstayers’ by certain dates.

    An ex-employee of O&S, Shafiq Mohammed alleged that staff would sometimes ‘look at a time to catch them the asylum seeker when they’re out to just change the locks. It’s as simple as and as brutal as that’.

    Shafiq Mohammed said the changing of locks could mean a ‘person will be literally out on the street’. He said: ‘They want to have that flat cleared, so they can move that next paying customer in.’

    O&S has managed the £221m Home Office contract for asylum seeker accommodation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, on behalf of international service company Serco, since September 2012. Emails have surfaced to back up the claims.

    One email written by an operations manager in July 2013, informs staff that notice has been served to the occupants of ten properties. The manager then informs staff to first ‘advise’ the asylum seeker in advance of the date listed beside each address, but ‘if they do not move, perform a lock change at the first available opportunity. . . please ensure this is given absolute priority’.

    Another email reads: ‘Please ensure that we bag/tag belongings at the same time as performing the lock change.’



  5. Friday 8th April 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    It’s pure folly to invite some of the US’s worst corporations over here to run our justice system, writes SOLOMON HUGHES

    HILLARY CLINTON’S campaign for the presidential nomination includes the promise to “end private prisons.”

    Which means a big part of US mainstream politics is running away from a policy that British politicians — Labour and Tory — have been running towards for a quarter of a century .

    British governments embraced private prisons partly in imitation of US policies. We even bring in the big US contractors to run our jails. The current government has also started inviting the same private prison contractors in to run our probation services, in another disastrous privatisation.

    But Clinton — the most mainstream of the current candidates for president — says the US should stop prison privatisation, because it corrupts the political system and leads to too many young people ending up in jail.

    Clinton’s campaign website says that as president she will “end the privatisation of prisons” because “Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations, and from creating private industry incentives that may contribute — or have the appearance of contributing — to over-incarceration”

    Her promise has a qualification: A new Clinton presidency will “move away” from prison privatisation, not end it immediately. But her charge — that prison privatisation leads to “over-incarceration” — is a powerful claim. And it is not at all far-fetched.

    The US had a very direct “kids for cash” scandal: a private prison builder bribed two judges in Pennsylvania to send more teens to his youth detention centres there. The scandal, uncovered in 2008, showed the judges were sending kids to incarceration for negligible “offences” including mocking their head teacher on MySpace.

    That was an extreme, and extremely sleazy, example. But there is a bigger and subtler effect: Clinton says that her campaign “does not accept contributions” from prison lobbyists. Because the prison industry does pay into the political system to increase its business.

    The big private prison firms regularly lobby politicians promising “solutions” to the crime issue, offering their services, hiring ex-politicians, donating to political campaigns. They create an atmosphere where politicians can think creating new jails is always the easy option.

    Politicians are often drawn to “lock-’em-up” solutions anyway. But the private firms, by hiding the problems of prisons and talking up their success, encourage these base instincts.

    Private prison firms don’t tell politicians that they will be facing scandals over prison conditions or sex abuse by guards or riots or drug-taking or ballooning prices or prisoner escapes (even though all these will happen in their for-profit jails). Politicians are encouraged to look towards incarceration of new groups — children, migrants, petty criminals and so on.

    So the growth of the private prison industry has gone hand in hand with the growth of the prison population.

    This is a visible effect in Britain too — and shamefully it was as visible under Labour as the Tories. Former Labour Home Secretary John Reid joined G4S — a firm that I regularly see lobbying at both Labour and Conservative conferences. Labour and Conservative activists lobby for Serco, a privatisation corporation that runs private prisons. Interserve, a privatisation firm run by Tory Lord Blackwell — a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and John Major — builds private prisons.

    In the US, Clinton is turning against the private prisons industry because activists from Black Lives Matter have decried the “mass incarceration” of African-Americans.

    If activists can turn a mainstream politician like Clinton against private prisons, we should be able to here.

    Especially as we have invited some of the worst US prison firms to run our jails alongside British and European firms like G4S, Serco and Sodexo.

    Like the US’s Geo Group, which also runs some of our detention centres. It was formerly known as Wackenhut, a Florida-based firm of private eyes run by a hard right former FBI agent, who kept private lists of US “subversives” which he sold as a corporate blacklist.

    We need to get away from a private prison model that brings businesses like this into the justice system.

    However, right now we are heading in the opposite direction.

    The Tory government is extending prisons privatisation into probation privatisation. They are bringing in new, scandal-hit US firms.

    The Tories gave Utah-based Management and Training Corporation (MTC) seven-year contracts to run probation in London and the Thames Valley. These are huge contracts, worth £982 million and £190m respectively.

    MTC will be in charge of all but the most violent ex-prisoners in these areas. But the firm’s record in US prisons is terrible.

    In July 2015 there was a riot at the MTC-run Arizona State Prison-Kingman, which meant 1,200 prisoners had to be shipped out.

    In September 2015 Arizona’s governor announced he was severing all links with MTC. The governor sacked MTC from Arizona’s prisons because a state investigation into the cause of the riot found “a culture of disorganisation, disengagement and disregard for state policies by MTC,” along with “failure by MTC to conduct critical staff training, and withholding these failures from Department of Corrections monitors.”

    In February 2015 there was a riot at the MTC-run Willacy County Correctional Centre in Texas. Around two thirds of the 2,800 inmates refused work details and set fire to three of the 10 tents in which they were housed.

    The riot was supressed after guards used teargas and 300 inmates were removed. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the riot was “most unsurprising” because of poor conditions; inmates slept in 200 closely placed beds per tent.

    ACLU’s visitor found inmates “getting thrown into isolation cells for complaining about bad food and poor medical care, being denied both urgent and routine medical care, and being cut off from contact with their families.” In March the National Bureau of Prisons cancelled MTC’s contract at the prison.

    So just as the US mainstream is turning away from private prisons, we are embracing their worst operators.



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  14. PROTESTS have been staged inside and outside Europe’s largest immigration detention centre after a man was found dead, amid fears over a mass deportation flight planned for Tuesday night.

    Nigerian man Oscar Okwurime died at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in west London on Thursday evening.

    Fellow detainees staged a protest in a courtyard on Friday morning, holding up a sheet saying “RIP Oscar.”

    On Saturday, protesters from Movement for Justice staged a demonstration outside, demanding “Justice for Oscar” and “No More Charter Flights — Stop Deportations.”

    The site, next to Heathrow airport, is run by private security contractor Mitie and holds 676 men awaiting decisions on their immigration status.

    Mr Okwurime was reportedly due to be deported on tomorrow night on a mass expulsion flight to Nigeria, and was said to be “terrified.”

    A similar deportation flight to Nigeria was grounded by activists in 2017, in a case that became known as the Stansted 15.


    There have been a series of deaths at Harmondsworth, which is one of Britain’s oldest detention centres.

    Last December an unnamed Algerian man was found dead at the centre, and in 2017 a Polish man, Marcin Gwozdzinski, took his own life.

    An inquest jury later found 10 failings had contributed to Mr Gwozdzinski’s death.

    The latest death at Harmondsworth comes amid growing calls to shut down the detention centre.

    Under plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, the centre will be demolished and an alternative site nearby is currently being sought by the Home Office.

    A public consultation by Heathrow Airport Ltd closed on Friday, with a green belt location off Faggs Road believed to be the most likely location.

    Hounslow Council is accepting submissions until September 24, and campaign group End Heathrow Immigration Detention is encouraging opponents to voice their objections.

    The group said it was “saddened” to hear of Mr Okwurime’s death and said the detention centre should “be closed to put an end to the suffering and injustice.”

    A Home Office spokesperson said: “Any death in detention is a tragic event and our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of Mr Okwurime.”

    Mitie said it was unable to comment while an investigation was ongoing.



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