WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 11 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Asylum centre shut down following asylum seeker’s death

Asylum centre shut down following asylum seeker’s death

Pic: Patrick Maguire
Red Cell: Patrick Maguire from Proof magazine, issue 4

Manston Asylum Centre is no longer housing asylum seekers after the death of a man held in detention. The tragedy follows multiple controversies surrounding the asylum centre that include the spread of rare infectious diseases, Home Office contractors’ attempts to sell cannabis to asylum seekers, dangerous overcrowding, and reports of leaving asylum seekers stranded at a London railway station. 

The asylum centre, located in Kent, was meant for short-term processing of asylum seekers right after their arrival in the UK. The identity of the man who died there has not been disclosed, but it is known he arrived in the UK on a small boat on the 12th of November. The man died a week later in hospital as a result of falling ill in the asylum centre. Action Against Detention and Deportations, a campaign group, has raised concerns that the man had been held unlawfully at the facility for more than 24 hours, which is the legal maximum.  

Concerns about the living conditions in the facility have also been raised by Humans for Rights Network. Testimonies by people who were held at Manston, including unaccompanied children, report being denied healthcare when requested, concerns echoed by the charity Medical Justice’s report. Emma Ginn, the Director of the charity, stated “The Home Secretary has been warned repeatedly that detaining vulnerable people beyond the 24-hour lawful limit in the terrible conditions at Manston has been harmful, putting thousands of men, women, and children’s health at risk.” Outbreaks of rare infectious diseases, such as diphtheria, have been confirmed at the site. Although the maximum capacity of the site is 1,600 people, as many as 4,000 were believed to have been placed there by the Home Office just a few weeks ago. Liz Clark of the charity Medical Justice stated that the overcrowding will make it very difficult to track and trace everyone who came into contact with the infectious diseases.  

Earlier this month, the Home Office had some of the centre’s staff removed when they tried to sell cannabis and other illegal substances to asylum seekers. “The Home Secretary has completely lost control of [the] asylum system,” shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said. Manston attempted to lessen the overcrowding of the facility by having asylum seekers leave the facility as quickly as possible but failed to provide assistance for many of those released from the centre. On the 1st of November a group of 11 refugees were left abandoned at Victoria railway station without food or adequate clothing. “People are not being supported with dignity, humanity and compassion,” said Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council. The asylum centre is now empty, and multiple investigations concerning its closure are being carried out by Government and NGOs.