Pregnant asylum seekers ‘held alongside violent sex criminals’ in immigration detention center

Pregnant asylum seekers and children have been held alongside violent sex criminals in an immigration detention centre, it has emerged.

The Dungavel facility, in Lanarkshire, has held five pregnant women since 2018 and 38 under-18s since the detention of children was outlawed in 2010.

A hard-hitting inspectorate report said it was “concerned” that females were held at Dungavel besides “several men with a history of sexual violence against women.”

Some of the men were convicted of crimes including rape and sexual assault in the UK.

They have been released from prison and are awaiting deportation.

Prior to the pandemic, they were in a separate wing but were moved to rooms in areas shared with vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

From new figures released under a Freedom of Information request, we can reveal seven kids were locked up alongside predatory criminals in Dungavel in 2021.

Five pregnant women have been detained there since 2018, with one in 2021.

SNP MSP Karen Adam said housing pregnant women and children in Dungavel was “disgraceful.”

She added: “The women and children held in Dungavel are fleeing for their lives yet are treated with zero respect or dignity by the Home Office.

“It would seem the UK Government is breaking the law by still detaining children under the age of 18 – despite this being banned since 2010.

“It is disgraceful that, after 12 years, this practice is still being carried out.” Adam demanded Home Secretary Priti Patel launch an urgent probe.

Human rights campaigner Pinar Aksu, 30, who was held in Dungavel when she was 14, said it was “dangerous” to house women and children there.

She added: “Even in a prison this is not how people would be treated. It is horrifying that females, pregnant women and children seeking asylum have been exposed to that unsafe environment.”

A group of Primary school Children, aged from nine to 12, have made a short animated film telling the story of a refugee escaping from Syria to Glasgow. Under the Jasmine Tree� premieres at the Refugee Festival on 27 June 2019. The 18 schoolchildren from St Fillan�s Primary School Migration After-School Club worked with a professional animator from media co-op to create their stop-motion animation: 10 images for every second of their 3-minute film. The children drew all the artwork, animated their film, and even created all the sound effects themselves. Their starting point was meeting by Syrian refugee Saffanna Aljbawi of Maryhill Integration Network. She read her poem by Ella about how she fled from her home with her four children and found safety in Scotland. Pinar Aksu of Maryhill Integration Network

The Home Office said: “Individuals without evidence of their age who were detained as adults and then claimed to be children would have been recorded as under 18 for data collection purposes.

“Women are always accommodated in a separate unit to men and pregnant women can only be detained if their removal is to take place shortly or in exceptional circumstances.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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