Human Rights Commission to visit asylum detainees

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is to visit asylum and immigration detainees being held at Maghaberry Prison on Monday.

The Chief Commissioner, Professor Brice Dickson, along with two other Commissioners, Lady Christine Eames and Rev. Harold Good, will meet senior management at the prison before going on to speak to asylum applicants and others being held under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Mr Dickson said the Commission wanted to hear from the detainees about their experience of access to health care, legal advice and interpreting facilities among other entitlements.

"Holding asylum applicants and immigration detainees in prison goes against human rights standards. Prisons are not fit for that purpose," the Chief Commissioner said.

"We are aware of increasing legal and social difficulties facing asylum applicants. Those who support detention seem to have forgotten that asylum is a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The consequence of claiming a right should not be detention in prison.”

Mr Dickson said the Commission had consistently expressed concern at the policy of holding asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in a high security prison alongside people convicted of serious crimes.

He also expressed concern about proposals in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday which he said would seek to criminalise undocumented asylum applicants.


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