Two charities threaten legal action over conditions at Manston holding centre
Two charities have threatened legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman over conditions at the Manston migrant holding centre.
Separate letters from Detention Action and a woman held at Manston, and Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) were sent to the Home Office on Tuesday over “the unlawful treatment of people held at the facility”.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick previously said the Government had received “initial contact for a judicial review” over Manston, but could not comment on who was behind the challenge for legal reasons.
He said the move was “not unusual” as it concerned a “highly litigious area of policy”.
Detention Action’s pre-action letter, sent by Duncan Lewis solicitors, said the woman, from a non-European country, “was unlawfully detained by the Home Secretary at the Manston facility in egregiously defective conditions”.
The complaint also includes “serious threats to the safety of children”, the charity said.
Concerns raised by the woman and the charity about the site near Ramsgate include “the routine prolongation of detention beyond statutory time limits; failure to adhere to essential safeguarding measures for children; women and children sleeping alongside adult men to whom they are unrelated; inadequate or non-existent access to legal advice for those detained; and exposure to infectious diseases due to overcrowding and poor sanitation”, the charity said.
Its deputy director James Wilson said: “We have taken this action out of serious concern for the welfare of thousands of people, including children, still being detained at Manston for periods far beyond legal limits.
“We are calling on the Home Secretary to declare that anyone held at Manston for more than 24 hours is being detained unlawfully.
“We are also asking that the Home Secretary allow access to the facility for organisations qualified to provide support in immigration detention settings.”
Later, BID, represented by law firm Leigh Day, it had also challenged “the unlawful failure to provide access to outside support”.
It asks Ms Braverman to “immediately provide legal advice surgeries at Manston and to help people at the centre to access legal advice”, the charity said.
BID legal director Pierre Makhlouf said: “People are being denied access to their legal right to apply for bail before an independent court, a process that would allow inquiry into their needs including their ability to access accommodation and support.
“Individuals need to be allowed to exercise their rights and the courts need to be allowed to consider cases of people in these circumstances.
“Keeping people in appalling conditions, dumping people on the streets without support and withholding information on their right to access legal rights is an inhuman approach towards those in need of compassion, and results in a breach of the legal standards the UK has set for itself.”
The Home Office confirmed it had received a letter and would be responding in due course, adding that it did not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
A spokesman said: “Manston remains resourced and equipped to process migrants securely and we will provide alternative accommodation as soon as possible.”
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