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UK bans filming at immigration detention center

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A view of Harmondsworth detention center near London’s Heathrow Airport

British authorities have banned filming at London’s Harmondsworth immigration detention center in a bid to curb public criticism over the facility’s poor conditions, a report reveals.

Investigative journalists from the Corporate Watch organization disclosed video footage from a hidden camera showing a staff member at Harmondsworth, located near Heathrow Airport, explaining the film ban.

“Say you’re in government and you have an illegal immigrant detention center which is this, detention center, yeah. And they (detainees) all have their phones with them, right, and a fight kicks off or, like, there’s bad conditions, which [in] this center there’s bad conditions, right. And people/you guys are taking photos of these bad conditions like rats and whatever ... that’s in here. And you’re sending it outside, sending it to news, whatever, that looks bad for the government, doesn’t it?” ” said the unnamed staff member.

The video comes as nearly half of those detained at the center have staged a hunger strike since March 9.

Some 300 refugees are participating in the strike at the detention facility to protest overcrowded, prison-like conditions which they have described as “comparable to animal cages.”

Similar strikes have also been staged in other detention centers across the UK since last week, with many of the detainees resorting to Twitter and Facebook to share their experiences.

An asylum seeker detained at Harmondsworth said in a tweet message that the center “is like a prison,” adding, “The conditions here are very bad…No one is allowed to go out. The officers working in here are very racist, behaving with us like we’re animals.”

The protests come in the wake of a UK parliamentary inquiry, which urged an end to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in centers that resemble high-security prisons. 

In a report released earlier this month, a panel of British MPs confirmed abuse and inhumane conditions in detention centers for asylum seekers in the UK. It added that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in the facilities is “expensive, ineffective and unjust.”

The UK is the only country in the EU that has no limit in the length of time that asylum seekers can be detained. 

According to Britain’s Home Office, more than 30,000 migrants and asylum seekers are estimated to have been detained indefinitely in the country with many held for months or even years.


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