Protest against sex abuse in asylum detention centres

LGBT & straight detainees at risk of harassment by abusive staff

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Date: Friday 27 September 2013
Time: 4:30-6:30pm
Venue: Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, SW1A 2NJ, opposite 10 Downing Street. Nearest tube station: Westminster

Organised by African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group, many of whose members are refugees seeking asylum in the UK and some of whom are being held in detention.

“We strongly condemn the sexual abuse of vulnerable refugees. The Home Office has ultimate responsibility for these abuses. They happened in asylum detention centres under Home Office control. We are calling on the Prime Minister to condemn the abuses, reform the detention centre system, initiate a public inquiry and press police and prosecutors to bring charges against abusers,” said Edwin Sesange, coordinator of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group.

The incidents of sexual abuse and harassment have been revealed by The Observer: and

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“Human rights should be universal, no matter what the immigration status of the individual. The UK is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which protect asylum seekers,” added Mr Sesange.

“The sexually inappropriate acts inflicted to those seeking refuge in the United Kingdom are a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits ‘inhuman or degrading treatment.’

“The government can blame the abuses on the private contractors running the detention centres, such as Serco, however the ultimate duty of care lies with the government. It cannot escape its responsibility for what has happened.

“The sexual harassment allegedly suffered by vulnerable women in Yarl’s Wood detention centre are criminal offences. The perpetrators should be prosecuted.

“The unlawful killing of James Mubenga at the hands of Home Office-contracted security staff from the private company G4S is an example of the criminal violations that many asylum seekers face in the hands of those who are supposed to care for them,” said Mr Sesange.

See the Mubenga case here:

“It is very likely that sexually inappropriate behaviour by staff is happening at other detention centres, not just at Yarl’s Wood. The government should be held to account for the sexual abuse of those seeking refuge in the UK. It cannot wash its hands and blame the private contractors,” added Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which is supporting the 27 September protest.

“The asylum detention system is fundamentally flawed. Detainees have too few rights and weak mechanisms for the redress of grievances. The private firms that run the centres are driven by the profit motive. Staff are often inadequately trained and supervised. Far too many refugees are unnecessarily detained.

“It is outrageous that LGBT people who have been victims of homophobic persecution in their home countries are locked up and treated like common criminals,” said Mr Tatchell.

The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation are urging the following:

  • A judge-led public inquiry into the problems and abuses faced asylum seekers and immigrants – and the government’s agreement to implement the inquiry recommendations.
  • Full confidentiality and protection for all victims and witnesses.
  • The prosecution of those who have been involved in sex abuse and violence against asylum applicants.
  • Reform of the asylum detention centre system, to limit detainees to those who are a threat to the public. Better training and supervision of staff. More rights and means of redress for detainees.

What you can do

Tweet your protests to David Cameron via: @David_Cameron and @Number10gov

Urge your MP to condemn the mistreatment of vulnerable refugees and to raise the issue in Parliament. Email your MP via:

Further information:

Edwin Sesange
African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group
Email: [email protected]

Peter Tatchell
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Email: [email protected]