WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 20 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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High Court grant permission to challenge ‘horrific’ living conditions at asylum accommodation

High Court grant permission to challenge ‘horrific’ living conditions at asylum accommodation

This article is from the Justice in a Time of Austerity series

Asylum seekers held in one of the Home Office’s ‘mass accommodation sites’ have been granted permission from the High Court to go to trial to challenge the use of RAF Weathersfield as asylum accommodation. 

The four asylum seekers, held in RAF Wethersfield, claim the Home Secretary has not provided an adequate standard of living and may be violating the European Convention of Human Rights. They also claim that the Home Office has failed to protect them from racial violence and harassment at the site. The site was described as ‘hostile’ with limits imposed upon asylum seekers’ movement and communication. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Katie Sweetingham of the charity Care4Calais, described the condition in Wethersfield as ‘horrific.’ She explained that people with no previous mental health issues were now facing a rapid decline since arriving at the site, with some considering self-harm and suicide. In January alone, ambulances responded to two suicide attempts in Wethersfield, although fortunately both individuals survived. Many of those held at the site have been victims of torture or modern slavery. 

Previous concerns have been raised that the living conditions at Wethersfield are leading to resentment and frustration amongst those living there. In a report by the Guardian, the former independent chief inspector of borders and immigration David Neal, described the site as having an ‘overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.’ He cautioned about the potential risks of isolating a large population of people in a remote location in very poor conditions, with limited knowledge of where they were going to be sent.  

Despite concerns having been raised about RAF Weathersfield, the Home Secretary has previously announced plans to transfer 1,700 asylum seekers to the accommodation and extend its use for three years. RAF Wethersfield is one of two ‘mass accommodation sites’ being used by the Government to hold asylum seekers whilst their claim is processed. The other being the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge which, much like Wethersfield, has been found to have inhumane conditions.  

A previous legal challenge brought by six asylum seekers against the government was successful back in June 2021 when the High Court ruled that the living conditions at Napier Barracks in Kent failed to meet minimum standards.