Belfast Telegraph

Amnesty's asylum fears after Yarl's Wood TV expose

By Amanda Ferguson

A human rights group says revelations about the treatment of immigration detainees in Yarl's Wood detention centre in England raise questions about the holding of asylum seekers in Northern Ireland.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said Channel 4's expose of Yarl's Wood is of concern here as some of the asylum seekers and other immigrants who are initially detained in Northern Ireland, find themselves at the English facility for longer-term detention.

Filming undercover, Channel 4 News found staff at Yarl's Wood referring to the detention centre's inmates - mostly female asylum seekers - as 'animals' and 'b***hes'. They also found incidents of self-harm in the centre, raised concerns about the healthcare of detained pregnant women, and showed guards showing contempt for detainees.

Two staff have now been suspended. Mr Corrigan said: "For many asylum seekers and other immigration detainees in Northern Ireland, the journey to Yarl's Wood starts at the Home Office's Drumkeen House in Belfast or Larne House in Co Antrim. The revelations from Yarl's Wood give a grim glimpse of the treatment to which people locked up in detention are subjected."

Larne House is run by contractor Tascor on behalf of the Home Office as a temporary holding centre for immigration detainees in Northern Ireland. The centre accommodates up to 19 detainees for up to a week.

According to Amnesty, the latest available figures show that 131 people were held there during the three-month period prior to inspection by HM Inspector of Prisons in 2011.

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