Cross-party delegation visits imprisoned asylum seekers

A cross-party delegation of Northern Ireland politicians will visit Maghaberry Prison today to highlight the plight of asylum seekers locked up in the high security prison.

The delegation to include Monica McWilliams of the Women's Coalition, Eileen Bell of the Alliance Party, Patricia Lewsley of the SDLP, Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin and Billy McCaughey of the PUP, will inspect the facilities where asylum seekers are held and speak with the imprisoned asylum seekers.

The visit is organised by the Refugee Action Group, a coalition of local human rights and ethnic minority organisations.

Patrick Corrigan, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Group, said: "The practice of imprisonment contravenes international human rights standards on the treatment of asylum seekers.

"Despite our repeated calls for this repugnant practice to end, the Government has told us it has no intention of halting its imprisonment policy. These asylum seekers are looking for a new home and all they get is a prison cell. Frankly, the Home Office should be ashamed of themselves.

"We are calling on the Government to put in place alternative arrangements for these asylum seekers – such as a hostel facility."

At present male asylum seekers are held in the same block as paramilitary prisoner Johnny Adair, albeit on separate floors, while the female asylum seekers are held amongst convicted female prisoners.

A recent survey commissioned by Amnesty International showed that almost nine out of 10 people in Northern Ireland are opposed to this policy.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

22 July 2008
Asylum Seekers Report Welcomed
There has been a broad welcome at Stormont for a new report on the way asylum seekers are being treated. Junior Ministers Gerry Kelly and Jeffrey Donaldson yesterday praised the work of a Commission which is "seeking to restore public confidence" in the UK asylum system.
04 December 2019
Elderly Woman Held Down During Burglary
An elderly woman has been left shaken after being restrained for some time in her Co Antrim home while masked men ransacked the property. The woman, aged in her 70s, was at home in the Creemavoy Road area of Broughshane when the burglars struck on Tuesday evening, 03 December.
17 June 2004
Number of asylum seekers held in NI prisons doubles
An increasing number of asylum seekers arriving in Northern Ireland are being locked up in prison as part of the Home Office’s detention policy, a new report has revealed today.
20 June 2005
Amnesty report accuses government of detaining asylum seekers
Amnesty International has accused the government of "detaining" thousands of asylum seekers in Northern Ireland. In a new report, Amnesty International has challenged Ministers to reveal how many people who have sought asylum are being detained each year and for how long.
10 June 2004
Survey finds NI youth ill-informed on asylum issues
A new survey carried out on behalf of Amnesty International has shown that young people in Northern Ireland are ill-informed on asylum issues.