Asylum seekers may once again be locked up without charge in Cardiff Jail, despite assurances that this barbaric practice had ended. Sources in the prison itself have confirmed this is true, despite official denials.

In May 2001 it was revealed that asylum seekers were being held behind bars alongside remand prisoners. It has now been 7 years since the removal of the “final” asylum seekers from the jail was welcomed by then Minister for Finance & Local Government, Edwina Hart, who stated

“I hope that the prisons in Wales will never need to be used for this purpose again in the future. Prisons are not the appropriate place for asylum seekers.”

However, the further detention of asylum seekers at HMP Cardiff in 2004 led to protests outside the prison. A cross-party consensus was reached in Sept 2004, at a meeting of the Welsh Assembly Equality of Opportunity Committee, that it was not appropriate to house asylum seekers in prisons.

However, during a visit to HMP Cardiff this October, a prison officer told our source that asylum seekers who have committed no crime continued to be detained at the Prison, due to lack of space at other immigration detention facilities in England.

This information was then passed on to the incompetent Dr. Brian Gibbons (see Gagged! #16) the Welsh minister for social justice asking him to investigate the situation. He claims that the Border & Immigration Agency have provided reassurances that under no circumstances would asylum seekers be detained in prisons. However they did admit asylum seekers were being held in police cells in South Wales. Where have we heard that one before?

This article appeared in Gagged! #21