JRS UK speaks out extension of Napier barracks

There is no justification to extend the use of Napier Barracks as asylum accommodation.

29 October 2021

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) UK has renewed its calls for the closure of the asylum camp at Napier barracks in Folkestone, and heavily criticised the use of emergency legislation to extend the camp’s tenure for a further 5 years. This comes as members of parliament have formally objected to the legislation used to extend Napier.

Napier was due to close in September 2021. However, in August the government announced that Napier would remain open until September 2025, extended Napier’s tenure using emergency planning powers. The emergency instrument in question is a “Special Development Order”, laid before parliament as a Negative Statutory Instrument.

Stuart C. MacDonald MP has tabled an Early Day Motion praying against – that is, objecting to – the Statutory Instrument. MPs have until 1st November to support this Motion.

JRS UK’s detention outreach team support people seeking asylum placed at Napier. William Neal, JRS UK’s detention outreach officer, said: “Over the last year, we have seen again and again how placement at Napier takes a huge human toll. People’s mental health deteriorates rapidly after they arrive, they struggle to access solicitors and even basic healthcare, and often suffer poor treatment. The site is isolated and prison-like. It is horrifying to think that it will be open for a further 4 years.”

In evidence submitted to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) JRS UK expressed concerns that the Instrument was laid during recess, on the Friday before August bank holiday weekend, and on the last day possible to avoid a lapse in Napier’s tenure as asylum accommodation; and further, that it was laid during a second COVID-19 outbreak at the site. The SLSC subsequently wrote a report criticising the Statutory Instrument, and urging MPs to examine it.

The government has also announced that Napier is being used to trial the wider use of accommodation centres, provisions for which are set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before parliament.

Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK’s Senior Policy Officer, said: “There is no justification whatsoever for the use of emergency powers to extend Napier. The government has known for the whole year that its previous emergency planning permission was due to expire in September and had time to use normal planning permission routes. This is a cynical attempt to avoid scrutiny and force through the extension of project that has been dogged by disaster after disaster inception. As the government cries emergency to engineer the continued use of Napier, it is making plans to build more asylum camps like it.  Napier must close, and the whole asylum centre project be abandoned. We urge MPs to support the EDM against the extension of Napier.”

The Early Day Motion also follows extensive wider criticism of Napier. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on detention, which is conducting an inquiry into quasi-detention sites excoriated Napier in its interim report, noting that “Residents at Napier had been told by camp staff not to speak to the media, NGOs or politicians about what was happening at the site – and that if they did, this would be reported to the Home Office and their asylum claims affected. These threats had left many residents too frightened to give evidence to the APPG.” In June, the High Court ruled that Napier was unlawful: the accommodation failed to meet the bare minimum standards required for asylum accommodation, screening for vulnerability of people placed at Napier was woefully inadequate, and residents had been unlawfully detained there when COVID restrictions were imposed.

[All News]


Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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