A COALITION of local people and campaign groups from across the country continued their monthly protest against a proposed detention centre at the weekend.

Demonstrators gathered at the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Medomsley, near Consett, on Saturday.

It was the fourth protest and campaigners have pledged to meet there on the third Saturday of every month.

The Home Office plans to detain 80 women at the Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre, and its proponents claim it would provide 200 local jobs.

Owen Temple, from the No To Hassockfield Campaign, who is a former Durham County Councillor for the Consett area, said: “I am ashamed of the way my country treats immigrants.

“We now have the worst record in Europe for detaining immigrants without trial and without time limit on their detention.

“This Government preaches “British Values” but ignores the most basic principle of Magna Carta – that people should not be imprisoned without trial.”

Campaigners argue the scenes of people fleeing Afghanistan has brought into sharp focus the plight of all those seeking asylum.

Agnes Tanoh, Detention Campaign Spokesperson at Women for Refugee Women, who was herself detained for over three months at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre before being granted refugee status, said: “I know the lasting harm that detention causes women who are looking for safety.

“When I was in detention, I saw a woman try to kill herself, I saw guards abuse women, I saw families torn apart.

“I don’t want this to happen to any more of my sisters.

“Do not let Hassockfield open as a detention centre for women. Instead, let us show compassion and build a kinder society.”

Former MEP, women’s rights campaigner and member of the No To Hassockfield Campaign, Julie Ward, said women are hugely impacted by conflict and various global crises, including climate breakdown, which leads to unsustainable lives, extreme poverty, hunger, increased violence and risk of trafficking.

She said: “We also see how authoritarian regimes seek to limit women’s freedoms and punish them for aspiring to be educated, to run businesses, to stand for elected office, to wear what they wish.

“Women asylum seekers have often experienced terrible violence at every stage of their journeys.

“Detention is a form of institutional state violence, which can have a profound psychological impact for years to come.

“Instead of locking up vulnerable women with the intention of deporting them back to face the likelihood of more violence we should be treating them with compassion and dignity.

“The UK is out of step with many of its neighbours in the way it treats those seeking asylum.”

The Ministry of Justice plans to open the centre with the first women potentially being detained at the end of the October.

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