Campaign group opposing reopening of Haslar immigration removal centre brands government policy on sending refugees to Rwanda as 'immoral'
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The group describes themselves as ‘a grassroots campaign led by local residents with input and support from national organisations to challenge the government policy of sending refugees to Rwanda, the arbitrary use of administrative detention and the enormous public expenditure which such an expansion requires.’
A spokesperson for the group said: ‘The government’s punitive Rwanda policy is deeply immoral and most likely illegal under international law and should be scrapped. It will not stop desperate refugees making the dangerous Channel crossing. If the government is really serious about “destroying the business model of the people traffickers” then there are effective alternatives which are humane and less costly.’
The site was previously used as an IRC for more than 30 years before it was shut down in 2016, and it has been empty ever since.
Last month Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage held a drop-in event with Home Office officials to let the public see plans for the site. NDNH held a peaceful protest outside.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘I have huge sympathy with what they are campaigning on, but this is an opportunity to do something with that site.
‘I would rather see that site used for something else, but the fact is that it’s been sat there, rotting away at public expense for years now and we have a well documented problem with illegal immigration.
‘The people put there will mostly be foreign national offenders who are waiting to be sent back to their country of origin after finishing their jail sentence here. It won’t be used for people going to Rwanda and it is a properly secure site. And it will create 200 new local jobs.
‘This government stood on a policy of trying to cut illegal immigration, and rightly so. We have tried so many other things, but I think there needs to be more of a disincentive which undermines the business model of the people traffickers.’
The group said that Home Office officials at the drop-in were unable to say how much the refurbishment and expansion of Haslar would cost.
The spokesperson added: ‘Committing millions of pounds of capital expenditure to prepare for an ineffective scheme which may never become operational is an unforgivable waste of public funds and amounts to nothing more than political “virtue signalling” by the Home Secretary at taxpayers’ expense.
‘The government failed to do any proper consultation prior to the decision to reopen Haslar, and the money would be much better spent on projects which actually benefit Gosport residents or improve asylum decision-making. For example, the Haslar site could be converted into a hospital, a recreation facility, a veterans’ village or much needed affordable housing. No Detention No Hsalar therefore calls upon the government to abandon the shameful policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda, cancel the expansion of the detention estate before any money is wasted, and create safe and legal routes for refugees to reach the UK.’