Letter: Rights for refugees

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Sir: Bob Tomlin (letter, 27 July) defends conditions under which asylum-seekers are held at Tinsley House detention centre.

I was held there for several months from the day I arrived in Britain seeking protection. I am a victim of rape. I had escaped a very violent situation in Uganda, in fear of my life. No one told me where I was being taken or why.

I was stressed and very depressed in detention because there is no freedom at all. Sometimes when you are anxious and maybe cry, officers put you in locked rooms, instead of giving the help you need.

Poor medical care was another problem. Often the people given medication don't speak English, and don't know what they have been given or why. People are given sleeping tablets, and some oversleep, sometimes for two or more days. The surgery would often only give paracetamol, whatever the illness.

The food in detention is not boring; it's disgusting. Most of it was tinned or other food I'm not used to. Most of the women in detention are black. Most are mothers. One wonders why they detain so many black women.

Many people are held for a long time because of poor legal advice. I had to change lawyers several times because they wouldn't present my case for coming out of detention. They call it detention, but it is a prison for people who have committed no crime.


London NW6