PRESS RELEASE: National Delegate Meeting of Journalists’ Union Demands Access to Immigration Detention Centres

Lynn Degele, delegate from the Oxford branch of the National Union of Journalists, proposed a motion at the NUJ national Delegate Meeting in Southport last weekend demanding the right of access for journalists to immigration detention centres such as Campsfield, near Oxford.

The resolution was carried unanimously by over 120 delegates, and the union’s National Executive Council is now charged with seeking changes to the law and regulations to secure its demands.

The Campaign to Close Campsfield is holding its monthly demonstration at Campsfield main gates this Saturday at noon. Bill MacKeith, joint organiser of the campaign said:

Last September’s BBC Panorama exposure of abuse by G4S guards in Brook House detention centre near Gatwick was only possible because of the bravery of one detention centre guard and hidden camera techniques.

The Home Office thinks it is immune from scrutiny. The exposure of the scandalous treatment of the Windrush generation shows it is time for change. Many of them have been unjustly imprisoned in Campsfield and other detention camps. Journalists have their part to play in further exposing the misdeeds of the Home Office. But they can only do this with access to places where the Home Office policy is put into practice.

Full text of resolution:

This Delegate Meeting congratulates detainee custody officer Callum Tulley and the other makers of the Panorama programme broadcast on 4 September 2017 exposing the abuse of people detained in the Brook House Immigration detention centre near Gatwick run by G4S.

This Delegate Meeting notes that:

  1. journalists are not normally admitted to immigration detention centres in the UK;
  2. the Panorama programme and its exposures were made possible only by the use of subterfuge and a hidden camera;
  3. immigration detainees are not a threat to security or safety; and
  4. the right of journalists in France to have access to immigration detention centres has recently been recognised by the French government.

This Delegate Meeting believes that:

  1. state-funded institutions, whether publicly or privately run, should be subject to scrutiny by the public including journalists;
  2. journalists should have physical access to detention centres, with the right to talk unhindered to detainees without being overheard by those in authority; and
  3. there are no overriding reasons of security or safety that justify the prevention of such access.

This Delegate Meeting therefore

  1. instructs the NEC to work with others towards legislation and or changes in non-statutory regulations to secure such access for journalists;
  2. calls on elected representatives and local and national media to support the right of journalists for access

 Contact: Bill MacKeith 01865 558145

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