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UK Politics

UN human rights investigator denied access to Yarl's Wood immigration centre


A UN human rights investigator has revealed she was denied access to the controversial Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Monday by the Government, in a move that she said was “disturbing.”

Rashida Manjoo, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, said she was refused entry to Yarl’s Wood this week, despite being given the go-ahead by the Prisons Inspectorate and being accompanied by one of their staff. She said she was told the decision to deny her access had come from the “highest levels” of the Home Office.

Last month, Jamaican detainee Christine Case, 40, died in the centre after suffering from what is thought to have been a heart attack. Manjoo said she had wanted to verify alleged human rights violations of the women detainees.

She said it was of “deep concern” that she was not allowed in “as if there was nothing to hide I should have been given access.” She added: “It’s part of the terms of references when mandate-holders are invited to a country that they should be given unrestricted access and this didn’t happen.”

She said the Home Office had originally offered her the chance to visit Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, which housed mostly men. She said she asked the Home Office at the start of her visit to let her attend Yarl’s Wood.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "A tour of Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre was never agreed as part of this fact-finding mission.”