OUSU council last week voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for the closure of Campsfield House and ultimately an end to immigration detention which since 1993, the year Campsfield was opened, has increased 20-fold to some 5,000 detainees at any one time in the UK. Similarly, JCR motions have passed in Lincoln, Christ Church, St. Catz and Jesus over the last fortnight with more planned in coming weeks, again condemning Campsfield and urging their respective Heads of Colleges to sign a letter to the Prime Minister in line with these principles. Several Heads of College, alongside other notable Oxford academics, have already signed this open letter which shall be released next month.
The resolutions of these motions are significant, but more important is the fact that a discussion has begun and student bodies have publicly condemned the abhorrent practice of detention without trial, without time limit, without proper judicial oversight and with little chance of bail. Too often conversations about Campsfield or immigration detention begin with ignorance (‘We do that in the UK?!’) or the assumption of criminality on the part of detainees. We hope such motions and articles such as Redmond Trayner’s investigation piece for OxStu will be the foundation for greater student awareness and action. After all, indefinite detention happens a mere 6 miles away- not often do such blatant abuses of human rights happen so systematically, so openly and so close to home.
The UK detains more migrants, for longer and with less judicial oversight than any other country in Europe and we are also the country where the role of private companies in running detention centres (7 out of 10 detention centres) is most prominent. The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, as well as organisations such as Amnesty International, have called on the UK to revise its immigration detention policy and reverse the trend to ever-more immigration detention- even the Lib Dems in their latest Immigration Policy Paper propose to end indefinite detention for immigration purposes. The facts are clear: immigration detention doesn’t act as a supposed deterrent to immigration and contravenes basic human rights. Furthermore, the psychological impacts of indefinite detention are grave, with a dual uncertainty hanging over detainees, since some have been held here for 2- 3 years, yet simultaneously deportations can occur with next to no warning, in some cases the next day.
Last year marked 20 years since the opening of Campsfield House and it feels like finally the tide is turning. If you want to get more involved in the Close Campsfield campaign, demonstrations outside Campsfield are held every last Saturday of the month at noon, or for more info visit: http://closecampsfield.wordpress.com/ or email [email protected].
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