Category Archives: Campsfield News

25 YEARS TOO LONG: CLOSURE OF CAMPSFIELD TO BE MARKED WITH PROTEST AND REFLECTION IN OXFORD THIS WEEK

On 29 November 1993, the first minibus full of immigration detainees arrived at Campsfield House IRC. Oxford resident Bill Mackeith, joint organiser of the Campaign to Close Campsfield, was one of twelve protestors who came to meet them. He was there, in shame and solidarity, to protest a system that (still) allows migrants (including refugees and asylum seekers) to be held without charge, time-limit or proper judicial oversight, in a network of prisons run for private profit.

A quarter of a century later, campaigners will mark the anniversary with a couple of free public events: an evening of reflection and discussion on 25 years of resistance to Campsfield on Thursday 22nd November (7pm, Oxford Town Hall), featuring testimony from an ex-detainee and a new exhibition about the campaign, and a lively protest outside Campsfield itself on Saturday 24th November (12 noon, at the main gates).

This year’s anniversary demonstration will be different as the campaign’s twenty-five year anniversary coincides with the welcome news that Campsfield is finally to close. Bill says, ‘We think soberly of all the harm done, the lives damaged or destroyed, and those lost – 18-year-old Kurd Ramazan Kamluca in June 2005 and Moldovan Ianos Dragotan in August 2011 – at Campsfield over the past twenty-five years.’

Throughout this time, detainees have protested about their conditions of imprisonment and for their release, and campaigners outside have sought to amplify their voices. There have been regular (monthly) demonstrations, rooftop protests, hunger strikes, interventions from MPs and prominent academics (that saw the expansion of Campsfield shelved in 2015) – and even a solidarity march to London.

In recent years, initiatives like Detention Unlocked, Freed Voices and the These Walls Must Fall campaign have focused public attention on the myriad of human rights abuses stemming from the current system. In 2015, an all-party parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention warned of “significant mental health costs for detainees, as well as considerable financial costs to the taxpayer”, and demanded a 28 day time-limit. This report was welcomed by Amnesty International but has yet to be implemented by the government. In Oxford, campaigners have vowed to keep fighting until “barbed wire Britain” is a thing of the past.

Statement from Bill MacKeith, joint organiser, on behalf of the campaign:

‘The announcement that Campsfield is to close is long overdue. But the misery and injustice of immigration detention continues at Yarl’s Wood, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, Brook and Tinsley, Morton Hall, and Dungavel. These too have to go. We shall work for that.’

Join campaigners on the steps of Oxford Town Hall for a photograph with the banner at 6.30pm on Thursday 22nd November.

Contact: Bill MacKeith: 01865 558145
closecampsfield@riseup.net

Advertisements

GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT CAMPSFIELD WILL CLOSE

Statement from Bill MacKeith, joint organiser:

‘”The announcement that Campsfield is to close is long overdue.

‘We think soberly of all the harm done, the lives damaged or destroyed, and those lost – 18-year-old Kurd Ramazan Kamluca in June 2005 and Moldovan Ianos Dragotan in August 2011 – at Campsfield over the past twenty-five years.

‘The name of our campaign is Campaign to Close Campsfield and End All Immigration Detention.

‘With Campsfield next May, four detention centres will have closed in four years. The number of people in detention is currently down some 20 per cent from the peak in 2015.

‘But the misery and injustice of immigration detention continues at Yarl’s Wood, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, Brook and Tinsley, Morton Hall, and Dungavel. These too have to go. We shall work for that.’

At the end of this month, to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of Campsfield, we shall be organising a big demo at Campsfield on Saturday the 24th, but also a special event at 7pm on Thursday 22nd November in Oxford Town Hall, where people who have been involved inside and outside Campsfield in resisting detention will tell their stories and talk about where next.

Flyer for 22nd and 24th November.

NATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED PEOPLE AND PROTEST AGAINST DETENTION CENTRES – SATURDAY 7 MAY

ShutDownDetentionLeeds (5)

As part of the national day of solidarity with detained people and against detention centres on Saturday 7 May, when campaign groups will demonstrate at detention centres around England and Scotland, there will be an extra demo at Campsfield main gates from 12 noon to 2pm.

How to get there.

See the facebook event

Kidlington Parish Council votes that Campsfield must close

PRESS RELEASE 10 April 2015

At its meeting on Thursday 9 April, Kidlington parish council’s policy-making Policy and Finance Committee voted that the controversial nearby Campsfield immigration detention centre should close. It reiterated its opposition also to any expansion, and stated that ‘the provision of large scale immigration detention facilities does not accord with the UNHCR guidelines on the use of detention only as a last resort, but rather as a deterrent for those seeking refuge. We are concerned about the impact on many of the detainees of prolonged detention, and call on the centre to be closed’. Continue reading

GOVERNMENT AGENTS FORMALLY WITHDRAW PLANNING APPLICATION

PRESS RELEASE

CGMS consultants, acting for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, have now written to Cherwell District Council formally withdrawing the planning application to expand Campsfield.

Bill MacKeith, spokesperson for the Campaign to Close Campsfield said:

“This is a great victory. But the new government in May must implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention: a 28-day time limit to detention and full judicial oversight of individual decisions to detain. This would be a further step forward and entail some closures of detention centres. Above all, this is a chance to point to the need for the end of the barbaric imprisonment every year of 30,000 innocent people under 1971 Immigration Act powers. Close Campsfield. Close all immigration detention centres.”

Carol Day at Leigh Day, solicitors acting for Stop Campsfield Expansion who wrote the 7-page letter to Cherwell Council that prompted the postponement of consideration of the application and then its withdrawal, said:

 “This is the right decision and very good news. The approach being taken by Cherwell Borough Council was clearly wrong in law. The onus was on the Home Office to prove that very special circumstances to justify this inappropriate development in the Green Belt were established. The information before the Council completely failed to make the case.”

Contacts:
Campaign to Close Campsfield: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577, Tim 07721 771 835, Gill 01993 703994
Leigh Day: David Standard, Head of Media Relations 01949 850246 07540 332717  dstandard@leighday.co.uk

DECISION ON CAMPSFIELD EXPANSION DEFERRED AGAIN

The Campsfield expansion planning application will NOT now be considered at the next Cherwell District Council planning meeting.
It is expected that the application won’t be considered until after the general election. It’s possible that it could go to the planning meeting due to be held on Thursday 21 May.
Updates to follow when possible.

See also http://www.asylum-welcome.org/index.php/campsfield  for the full list of organisations supporting the Stop Campsfield Expansion coalition.

DECISION ON CAMPSFIELD EXPANSION DEFERRED

STOP CAMPSFIELD EXPANSION       PRESS RELEASE
19/02/15 – immediate use

DECISION ON CAMPSFIELD EXPANSION DEFERRED AS CAMPAIGNERS CRITICISE “FLAWED” OFFICERS’ REPORT

Cherwell District Councillors today voted to defer an application to more than double the size of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre, due to late receipt of a legal letter by Leigh Day solicitors, representing members of the Stop Campsfield Expansion group.

The letter stated that the approach in the Officer’s Committee Report, prepared by Cherwell District Council and which made recommendations followed by elected Planning Committee Members, “is plainly wrong in law”. The Officer’s Committee Report advised Councillors not to consider relevant evidence, falsely suggested that Planning Matters such as the standard of accommodation were not actually planning matters, and encouraged them to accept Home Office policy statements blindly without the need for evidence.

Campaigners said this vindicated their approach: “This backs up what we’ve been saying from the beginning, that Councillors must consider all the evidence and make up their own minds whether there is a need to detain more migrants,” said Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campsfield. “Since the Home Office’s own figures confirm that they are releasing more and more detainees without taking further action against them, people who they should never have locked up in the first place, we are confident Councillors will eventually decide that there is no “Need”.”

At a lobby called by Oxford Trades Union Council outside the council offices in Bodicote, Banbury, 40-50 people heard speeches from members of the Movement for Justice; Maurice Wren, head of the Refugee Council of England and Wales; and parliamentary candidates Sally Copley and Larry Sanders from the Labour and Green parties respectively.

WP_20150219_15_26_15_Pro[2]

The next Cherwell planning committee meeting is on 19 March.

For more information, contact Bill MacKeith on 01865 558 145 or Liz
Peretz on 07791738577