Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Investigation into detention of Asylum seekers welcomed

12 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Human Rights and Equality has welcomed the launch
of an investigation into the detention of Asylum seekers by the Human Rights
Commission and suggested that today's series of visits should be followed up
by a cross party delegation.

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin have long-standing concerns about the detention of Asylum Seekers
in prisons here and the conditions in which they are housed. It is clear
that Asylum Seekers should not be detained in prison. Their detention is
nothing less than internment. Republicans know only too well the impact that
this has on individuals and families. It only serves to increase the
uncertainty and hardship that Asylum Seekers face.

"Central to the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement is the
vindication and protection of the Human Rights of all. This must include the
Human Rights of Asylum Seekers. Over 5 years ago Sinn Féin brought this
issue to the Assembly and called for the implementation of the
recommendations of the Law Centre report 'Sanctuary in a Cell'.

"Yet despite a political mandate for action - including the ending of the
unnecessary detention of Asylum Seekers, the creation of non-custodial
alternatives, the designation of the British Home Office under section 75
and full access to free legal advice and welfare and community services - 5
years on the NIO have done nothing to end this disgrace.

"Fifteen months ago a Sinn Féin delegation met with Asylum Seekers being
held in Crumlin Road Prison as part of a fact finding mission. Before
Christmas Sinn Féin meet with Shaun Woodward to again voice our serious
concerns about a number of issues surrounding our prisons, particularly in
relation to the conditions faced by women in Hydebank and the imprisonment
of Asylum Seekers.

"The recent ruling that slopping out violated the rights of prisoners
highlights some of the difficulties and the need to ensure a human rights
ethos, both for Asylum Seekers who should not even be detained in prison and
for prisoners." ENDS

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