Daily Archives: December 8th, 2013

“Second woman faces deportation after sex claim against Yarl’s Wood staff”

A witness to an alleged case of sexual misconduct at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre is being threatened with deportation, provoking fresh claims of a cover-up.

Afolashade Lamidi, 40, from Nigeria, alleges she saw a male Serco employee harassing and pushing a female detainee who had lodged a complaint against several guards over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Lamidi claims that an inmate called Tanja was physically targeted and intimidated by staff in the Yarl’s Wood canteen and also saw the 23-year-old self-harming. Campaigners claim the Home Office is trying to silence another witness to sex abuse allegations at Britain’s largest immigration removal centre for women.

Last month, the Observer revealed the case of Sirah Jeng, who alleges she saw a male Serco employee having sexual contact with Tanja but faced being detained and deported before she could testify to police.

Anthony Gard, of civil rights group Movement for Justice, said: “We are shocked that the Home Office is harassing and trying to deport yet another witness.”

On Tuesday, immigration minister Mark Harper and David Wood, the Home Office’s director general for immigration enforcement, will be asked by members of the home affairs select committee what they are doing to ensure detainees are not abused.

Lamidi claims that after Tanja, not her real name, made her complaint about alleged sexual advances she told police she was targeted by staff. “We were in the canteen. She wanted to fetch water from the drink machine. There were four officers and one of them started to push her. So we started shouting. A couple of days after that they released her,” said Lamidi.

Three Serco staff have been dismissed over Tanja’s allegations, but it is not known if this includes those involved in the alleged canteen incident. Lamidi said that after being interviewed last month by Bedfordshire police over Tanja’s claims, the Home Office is trying to deport her.

“I am worried that they want to get rid of me because of this,” said Lamidi, who has lived in the UK since 2004 and is engaged to a British citizen of Nigerian origin who was born here.

Her fiance, Tony Babatunde Adebanjo, from Tottenham, north London, said: “They want to get rid of all the witnesses to the sexual abuse. They are keeping her in Yarl’s Wood and because she’s a witness they want her out of the country.” He said the UK Border Agency had said she could go to Nigeria voluntarily and return on a spouse visa within a few months. The couple were due to marry last Wednesday but officials would not release Lamidi. Lamidi, who has lived in the UK illegally, said: “They say they will give me a spouse visa but they don’t put that in writing.”

Although the couple have bought a flight to Nigeria for 26 January, they claim they have been offered a refund by officials, heightening fears that they intend to deport Lamidi.

Jeng, 59, was told she would be deported within five days and was detained in Yarl’s Wood hours before a police interview. When the Observer revealed this she was interviewed by police the next day and released.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Any allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated.”

From today’s Observer

QotD: “that is not the way we measure progress”

We have been asked, by many people in the societies in which we live, to accept that we women are making progress. You see, because you see our presence in these places that we weren’t before. And those of us who are berated for being radical have said: that is not the way we measure progress. You see, we count the dead bodies. We count the numbers of rapes. We count the women who are being battered. We keep track of the children who are being raped by their fathers. And when those numbers start to change in a way that is meaningful, we will then talk to you about whether or not we can measure progress.

Andrea Dworkin

(Found at the Bewilderness)