A KEY victory for infamous detention centre Yarl’s Wood’s longest-serving inmate was celebrated yesterday after an 11th-hour Home Office decision saw her deportation flight cancelled, raising hopes for her release.
Mabel Gawanas had been expected to be put on a plane to Namibia last night, despite having an underage British daughter and several health problems.
But following a judicial review penned by Ms Gawanas herself, her extradition was postponed.
Immigrant rights group Movement for Justice spokeswoman Antonia Bright told the Star that the group would now be calling for Ms Gawanas’s release.
“She’s been in detention over 22 months, but she has not been deported,” Ms Bright said. “What is she still doing in detention?”
According to the Home Office, Ms Gawanas is a “foreign-national offender,” but supporters of the 42-year-old argued that she had served her sentence for a 2012 crime.
Her records show that Ms Gawanas was abused as a child in Namibia and was later trafficked into Britain.
She has been one of the main organisers of migrants’ rights protests inside Yarl’s Wood and had blown the whistle on abuses going on inside the centre before.
In the run-up to a parliamentary debate on detention last September, Ms Gawanas called a three-day courtyard protest attended by over 200 women.
Ms Bright added: “We are really proud of the fight Mabel has made that has ensured the current removal directions have been cancelled.
“The growing movement to end detention is making victories more possible.”
Her judicial review will now be taken to court for examination.
If released, Ms Gawanas is expected to join other campaigners at a rally outside Yarl’s Wood on May 7.