Articles on resistance to Campsfield Detention Centre from Black Flag #219 (2000)
Sixth Anniversary Demonstration
Three hundred people marked the sixth anniversary of the opening of Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre
Despite a heavy police presence and constant police harassment, (two pigs for every protester, backed up with police horses and a helicopter), protesters kept up a noisy protest for two hours before dispersing.
On arrival at the detention centre protesters were forced to park half a mile away from the camp. Every protester was photographed and videoed by the police as they arrived at the gates of the camp and the surveillance continued throughout the demonstration only stopping for ten minutes when police attacked the protesters.
Campsfield is surrounded by a 20-foot-high, half-inch thick metal wall. Protesters banged on it with their hands to let the refugees in the camp know they were there. Police decided this was causing 'criminal damage' to the fence and ordered the protesters to desist. This only encouraged people to bang even harder. The police then charged the demonstrators and pulled people away from the fence dragging them through a hedgerow and literally throwing them into the field adjacent to the camp. A line of police was then formed at the fence to keep protesters away from it.
Demonstrators let off multicoloured helium balloons that tangled above the fence, their strings caught on the razor wire. Paper planes flew over carrying messages of support to the detainees to the sound of drums, flutes, guitars, pots and pans.
Group 4, who run Campsfield for the Immigration Service, were clearly nervous. Bolts along the fence had been welded solid. Detainees were locked indoors until the demonstration finished. The government need to understand that these protests will continue until they stop imprisoning people without trial, without reason and without time limit, punishing people for seeking asylum.
At the end of the demo protesters agreed to continue opposition to existing detention centres Campsfield (Oxfordshire), Harmondsworth (Heathrow), Tinsley (Gatwick), Haslar (Portsmouth), Rochester Prison (Kent) and against the new detention centres planned at Oakington (Cambridgeshire), and Aldington (Kent).
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (IvcAoc); 110 Hamstead Road, Birmingham 820 205; telephone 0121 554 6947 fax 0870 055 4570; email: [email protected]; website: www.ncadc.demon.co.uk
Victory for John Quaquah
Straw fails to deport Campsfield detainee
The High Court on 15 December 1999 quashed a decision Home Secretary to deport John Quaquah, an asylum seeker who is suing the Home Office after events at Campsfield Detention Centre in 1997.
John Quaquah was detained at Campsfield in August - when he, and eight others, were charged with offences spent ten months in prison before coming to trial. All nine were acquitted of those charges after the criminal trial collapsed in June 1998 when the evidence of Group 4 employees - running the detention centre under a private contract - was found to be unreliable. The behaviour of these Group 4 officers was described as "wicked" by the High Court.
After his acquittal, John sought to bring a claim for damages for malicious prosecution against the Home Office as well as Group 4. He was then served with a deportation order. However the High Court ruled on 15 December that the deportation order should be quashed for failing to pay proper regard to the requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and the requirements of the new Civil Procedure Rules, both of which require an 'equality of arms' for parties engaged in litigation. Put simply, this means that Jack Straw's attempt to avoid being sued by deporting someone has failed.
Straw has learned nothing from this episode. Group 4 are amongst the front-runners, along with weirdo god-botherer private prisons outfit Wackenhut, to run the new 'open' detention centre at Oakington. The Campsfield Nine campaign to try and teach the Home Office a lesson goes on.
Campsfield Nine Defence Campaign on 01865 557 282 c, 07961 392 510. More information on anti-deportation can be found at www.ncadc.demon.co.uk