A court ruled yesterday that an asylum seeker and possible victim of trafficking detained at a former army barracks in Kent must be urgently moved over concerns about his welfare and the appalling conditions of the accommodation. The Home Office had agreed to transfer the man currently held at the controversial Napier Barracks two weeks ago which holds around 400 asylum seekers despite concerns over inhumane conditions however nothing had been done.
A deputy court judge heard how residents at the barracks had been told they were not allowed to leave the barracks and required to self-isolate since a COVID-19 outbreak over two weeks ago resulting in at least 100 positive tests. According to his solicitors’ Deighton Pierce Glynn, the court ‘also heard evidence about the unsafe and insanitary conditions at the barracks, with 14 men sharing a room, lack of heating, poor sanitary conditions, and risk of COVID-19 infection, and about the impact of a recent serious fire, which has forced the Claimant to sleep on a mattress on the floor of another shared dormitory and left the barracks for a number of days with very limited electricity, no hot water or heating despite freezing temperatures and limited food and drinking water’.
The government told the court that transfers away from the barracks were not possible while it was in lockdown. The Court heard psychiatric evidence that his mental health had ‘significantly worsened since being placed at Napier Barracks and that prolonged indefinite accommodation at Napier Barracks has injuriously affected his mental health’. There will now be a hearing to decide permission for a judicial review.
‘This is a very welcome decision both for our client, a vulnerable asylum seeker and potential victim of trafficking, but also the other asylum seekers currently accommodated in Napier Barracks, as it means that other residents can now be transferred out and claims regarding the adequacy of the accommodation provided in Napier Barracks, including whether it is in breach of the Article 3 prohibition against inhuman and degrading treatment, can be properly considered by the High Court,’ commented Emily Soothill, solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn.