Human rights commission calls for Dungavel review



The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has called for a review into the practice of indefinite detention at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre.

The independent public body made its call a week after attempts to investigate reports of asylum seekers being denied food and living in poor conditions were blocked by the Home Office.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) requested to visit the Dungavel detention centre in South Lanarkshire but was refused permission by the Home Office, despite the agreement of the centre’s manager.

The STUC visited Dungavel when it opened eight years ago, but has been refused the opportunity to see the centre again.

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the STUC, said that “there are things going on in that centre which at the very least they don’t want a light shone on”.

In a statement issued yesterday, the SHRC said it “notes concerns over detention at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre and acknowledges calls made by the Scottish TUC and other civil society organisations for human rights organisations to be allowed entry to it”.

The statement continues: “The Commission’s understanding is that the indeterminate length of detention experienced by people at Dungavel gives rise to human rights concerns. We are calling for an urgent review of the practice of indeterminate detention.

“The Commission is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights of everyone in Scotland. While immigration detention is a reserved matter, and we have no power of entry to Dungavel, we are concerned about the effects of the practice of indeterminate detention.

“This extends not only to the impact on individuals directly affected, but also their families, the wider community and the culture of respect for human rights in Scotland as a whole.

“The Commission supports the recommendation of the joint UK Parliamentary Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and on Migration, that immigration detention should be a last resort, for the shortest time possible and with a maximum time limit of 28 days.

“The Commission is a member of the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture), which is an international human rights treaty designed to strengthen protection for people deprived of their liberty. The Commission will therefore be raising concerns about the human rights implications of indeterminate detention through this mechanism.”