UK runs 'Guantanamo camps', says detainees

Law Editor,Robert Verkaik
Thursday 11 December 2008 01:00 GMT

Asylum-seekers who claim to have been abused by British security guards accused the Government yesterday of running Guantanamo Bay-style detention camps.

Mafungasei Maikokera, a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker attending a meeting at the House of Commons, said guards had beaten her when she resisted attempts to deport her. and had discussed "bonuses" they were paid for removing asylum-seekers.

Her allegations form one of 300 accounts in the report Outsourcing Abuse, published by a civil liberties law firm and two lobby groups in July.

David Wood, a strategic director at the UK Border Agency, said there was no "bonus" payment scheme and that he took all allegations seriously. He said the immigration system was "nothing like Guantanamo Bay".

Mr Wood told the meeting chaired by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Eric Avebury that no system could be foolproof but there was no systemic abuse in the detention and removal of asylum-seekers. Home Office figures show that 188 complaints of assault and racial abuse have been made in the past two years, with 136 investigated and 11 upheld. Seven security guards have been disciplined.

Emma Ginn, from Medical Justice, one of the report's authors, said the report was "the tip of the iceberg of horrific violence, for which the Home Office is ultimately responsible".

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has appointed the former police ombudsman of Northern Ireland Nuala O'Loan to investigate the claims.

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