Tories defy court ruling and keep asylum seekers detained at Napier Barracks

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IT HAS been confirmed that the Home Office is determined to keep the dilapidated and dangerous Napier Barracks open for a further four years.

The former military barracks in Kent has been used since September last year to keep asylum seekers in cramped and filthy conditions.

In June 2021, a High Court judge found that accommodation at the site failed to meet the minimum standard, deeming it overcrowded, unsafe and ‘unfit for human habitation’.

The judge, Justice Linden, ruled that the Home Office acted unlawfully when deciding that the camp was appropriate accommodation.

At its height, the barracks housed 400 asylum seekers fleeing from wars and persecution. Currently, 230 people live in the appalling conditions sleeping in dormitories of up to 14 people.

Clearly, the Tories are preparing to increase this number as part of their ‘hostile environment’ strategy.

At this and other camps, the Tories have created not just a hostile environment but a breeding ground for Covid. Nearly 200 people at the site contracted coronavirus earlier this year as a result of the cramped, communal dormitories they are forced to live in.

Clare Moseley, founder of the migrant charity Care4Calais, said: ‘It’s no surprise that cases of Covid have been found in Napier Barracks. It’s disappointing that credible evidence has been ignored for so long and this government is determined to house vulnerable people in Napier.’

While lawyers and human rights organisations have called for Napier barracks to be shut down, the Tories are determined to expand its use.

The government’s response was typically arrogant and dismissive with a Whitehall source telling the press: ‘We don’t want people staying in hotels when we’ve got perfectly good military barracks to house arrivals.’

In fact, the Tories are quite happy to put up some asylum seekers in hotels. Afghans who worked with imperialist forces in the country and who managed to get out with the defeated UK military will not be sent to Napier but placed in hotels as a reward for their aid to British imperialism.

Holding vulnerable people in appalling and deadly conditions at detention centres across the country is all part of the Tory war on those fleeing imperialist wars throughout the world.

Last week, Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that she was appointing a former counter-terror police chief, Tony Eastaugh, to head up the campaign to drive refugees from British waters.

Eastaugh has been appointed to use his counter-terror techniques to enforce the new laws Patel is pushing through to deny migrants the right to settle in the UK, even if they are granted asylum.

These laws will give the UK Border Force powers to ‘turn back’ migrants’ boats and establish offshore centres processing asylum seekers. This means packing them off to some remote corner of the world to be processed.

Eastaugh’s appointment follows that of former Royal marine commando, Dan O’Mahoney, to the post of ‘small boats commander’ with the job of stopping, by any means necessary, small boats crossing the Channel even at the risk of sinking them.

Civil Servants at the Home Office are being dumped and replaced with the Police and Army in order to wage war on refugees and asylum seekers.

Any person fleeing war and persecution who manages to survive the dangerous crossing and avoid being sunk or driven back can expect to be held in a detention centre under conditions that virtually guarantee they will be exposed to coronavirus while they await being sent off to rot somewhere far away.

The enemy of the working class is not refugees fleeing imperialist wars but a Tory government that is preparing to wage a similar war at home as it prepares to make workers pay for its crisis with mass unemployment and poverty.

The way forward is for the working class to take action and bring down this Tory government, and put an end to its war on refugees and workers by organising a general strike and going forward to a workers’ government which will welcome all workers and young people to join building a socialist society that will guarantee a job and a peaceful life for all.