Letter: Hunger-striking asylum seekers at crisis point in detention centres

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I add a footnote to your excellent report about the detention of asylum-seekers (25 March)?

I have come to know personally two of the Zaireans detained at Campsfield House. They are admirable young men, obviously of good character, who, after being persecuted for their opposition to the corrupt regime in Zaire, have come to this country in the hope of asylum. They have been detained from the moment of their arrival, and every attempt to obtain a decision on their future has been unsuccessful. Finally, they have gone on hunger strike, whereupon they have been whisked off to prison, where Judge Stephen Tumim rightly says they ought not to be.

You quote the Home Office as saying that 'we only detain where there is no alternative and where there are grounds for believing that the person concerned will

not comply with any restrictions imposed'.

In these cases there is an alternative; we have offered to house them, and what conceivable grounds are there for believing that they will not comply with any restrictions the Home Office may impose? But the offer has not been taken up; is the Home Office waiting until some hunger-striking asylum seekers die before they make any decision?

Yours faithfully,

WILLIAM HAYTER

Stanton St John,

Oxfordshire

25 March

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