The High Court ruled on 3 June that the disused Napier military barracks provided inadequate and unsafe accommodation for asylum-seekers, and that a major COVID outbreak there was inevitable. The ruling also found that residents of Napier Barracks were unlawfully detained there.
The case was brought by 6 asylum-seekers who were previously detained at Napier barracks. Deighton Pierce Glynn represented four of the Claimants, with two others represented by Matthew Gold Solicitors. Liberty and JCWI intervened by way of written submissions.
Today’s judgment proves that this Government not only ignores its own rules, but that it is reckless with people’s lives. Asylum seekers were unlawfully detained in appalling, crowded conditions. This was against all COVID guidance and Priti Patel had full knowledge that it would cause an outbreak.
Abandoned, ramshackle military barracks are totally unsuitable sites to house anyone, much less victims of torture or trafficking and people fleeing atrocities. To do so was a cruel and politically motivated decision from a government that consistently puts people’s lives in danger and hopes to get away with it.
There is no place for sites like these in our communities and they must be shut down immediately.Satbir Singh, JCWI Chief Executive
“We’re surrounded by fences. It’s a prison camp. It’s a trap.”Former resident of Napier Barracks
On Saturday 22 May, people travelled to Napier barracks to stand in solidarity with the residents.
The organisers, under the banner Close the Camps UK, message for the day was:
We travelled to Kent to Napier to show them they are not alone and the residents are not forgotten. We wanted to offer our care and friendship, practical support and any experience we can share. Their struggle is our struggle – against racist borders and a violent state.
Different grassroots groups ran stalls and workshops with lawyers, ESOL, doctors, community organising, haircuts, how to speak to the press, a ‘free shop’ and even creative workshops like t-shirt printing too.
Despite the heavy rain we laughed together, danced together, played sports, ate food and shared music from around the world.
We CHOOSE LOVE!
It was a shame that many residents were told by the security that they couldn’t come out of the Barracks or they would be reported!