Saturday, December 29, 2007

Campsfield latest

More astonishing yet unsurprising news from the Campaign to Close Campsfield. Yes, that's a paradoxical expression, but I don't know how else to describe the behaviour of the government's immigration system.

:: CAMPSFIELD LATEST: ATTEMPT TO REMOVE EDINBURGH AIRPORT WORKER WAS ILLEGAL
:::: BILL FOR LATEST 'TARGET-DRIVEN MAYHEM' COULD RUN INTO MILLIONS
:::: FAMILIES DIVIDED FOR CHRISTMAS: SINCLAIR ORDEAL CONTINUES

The forced removal of a detainee by GEO guards a week ago, triggering Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre's third major incident of 2007, was not only violent; it was also illegal. The alleged victim, an Edinburgh Airport security-worker and father, Davis Osagie Odiase, has been traced by campaigners to the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near Heathrow. It appears he was taken there after the flight on which he was to have been removed to Benin, the West-African country Odiase left when he was aged two [yes, that's right - MR] was cancelled.

Under Home Office rules, asylum applicants may only be removed from the country if their application and any appeals have been rejected. But it turns out that Odiase is scheduled to appeal his case at the High Court on March 18th. So not only the removal attempt last week, but also his 3-month detention in Campsfield, was illegal.

According to detainee-support organisation Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) the Home Office could be obliged to pay for his return-travel to London from Benin to attend the hearing if he is removed from the country, as well as being sued for wrongful imprisonment. Odiase is now, also, needed as a witness by Thames Valley Police investigating the alleged assault [on him by Campsfield's privatised security guards - MR].

A spokesman for the Campsfield campaign, Bob Hughes, says, "This is target-culture in action. Home Office contractors' profits and jobs depend on meeting their targets for detentions and removals, so everything else becomes secondary. Families are torn apart and thrown onto state benefit. People lose their jobs and even their homes when breadwinners are seized and locked up. Racism must be a factor in all this: nobody would even dream of doing this to people who are white and middle-class. It would be front page news, and absolutely rightly so."

Odiase told BID he has not been given a medical examination, only paracetamol, despite a suspected broken nose and being barely able to walk. He also faces a renewed removal threat on Boxing Day, unless the Home Office can be persuaded to recognise his legal situation and halt the removal.

... AND THE SINCLAIR FAMILY'S ORDEAL CONTINUES THIS CHRISTMAS

Meanwhile, Oxford building-worker and cricket-player Michael Lee Sinclair will spend Christmas in Dover Immigration Removal Centre - where he was taken after Campsfield was evacuated - instead of with his wife, Paula, and their children in Headington. Sinclair fell foul of immigration law last year when, on Home Office advice, he returned to Jamaica for a spouse's visa, and was inexplicably refused.

He applied for immigration bail on Friday but was refused because, in the Immigration Judge's opinion, there was "a risk of absconding" - despite his considerable and self-evident family ties. Hughes comments: "Immigration judges usually decide there is a 'risk of absconding' where someone has 'insufficient family ties'. But now it seems they lock you up either way. Lives are being wrecked by all this, and at lavish, public expense. The cost of this week's mayhem could easily run into millions - and all to meet targets, made up on the spur of the moment, by politicians desperate to appear 'tough'. Surely this is an abuse of political power. Most of us believe we have governments and pay taxes to prevent or to cure harm, not to cause it."

GEO = "Global Expertise in Outsourcing", a Texas-based company previously known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, implicated in the running of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. GEO has managed Campsfield IRC since May 2005.

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