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Abbott raises urgent question over treatment of hunger strikers in Yarl's Wood

DIANE ABBOTT raised an urgent question in the Commons today about Home Office threats to women on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood.

She was finally given permission to visit the immigration removal centre last month, despite becoming shadow home secretary in 2016. Her visit coincided with a hunger strike over inhumane conditions and indefinite detentions.

The Home Office has been accused of ordering “punitive deportations” after the leaking of a letter sent to hunger strikers that warned of “accelerated removal.”

Ms Abbott told MPs that the Home Office and Serco and G4S — the private companies that run the prison — denied there was a hunger strike. “It now seems that we were misled,” she said.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said the letter was part of official Home Office guidance. “Nobody wants detainees to be at any risk, but it is important that they should not regard that as a route to prevent removal from this country,” she said.

Labour’s Stretford & Urmston MP Kate Green said that many women who have been victims of abuse and torture are detained and released numerous times before being allowed freedom.

Tottenham MP David Lammy accused the government of indifference to the plight of women who have been detained for months and even years without an end in sight.

And the SNP’s Stuart C McDonald said: “The large-scale routine detention of thousands of human beings in private prisons for an indeterminate period, simply at the discretion of immigration officers, is frankly a stain on our democracy and an affront to the rule of law.”

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