By Tony Winterburn • 07 December 2020 • 8:45
ASYLUM SEEKERS in Kent barracks are being transferred directly to immigration removal centres.
Lawyers say they are being denied access to their clients currently housed in Kent army barracks who require urgent legal advice and have learned that residents are being moved directly to detention centres for removal from the UK.
Napier Barracks in Kent and Penally barracks in Pembrokeshire, which between them hold more than 600 men, were handed over from the Ministry of Defence to the Home Office in September to be used as accommodation for asylum seekers. The Home Office has said the sites are temporary, contingency accommodation for asylum seekers who will eventually be moved to dispersed accommodation such as a house or flat while their claims are considered.
A senior asylum law caseworker providing assistance to residents at the Penally barracks in south-west Wales, who apparently asked not to be named for fear of being denied access, said he had been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before entering the site and was escorted during his visit by what he described as ‘imposing security guards.’
David Greene, the president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “We are alarmed that asylum seekers are being denied access to their solicitor in the Napier barracks. It is an absolute that all should have access to legal advice and justice. Those held in the barracks should be made aware that if they have little or no money, they could be entitled to legal aid with their asylum claim.
“We urge the Home Office to reconsider its actions at the Napier barracks and make sure that those held there are given access to their solicitor, so they can begin or continue their asylum claim. Solicitors have been subject to rhetoric from the government they should not have to face while doing their day job.”
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