UN official Rashida Manjoo criticized the Home Office's refusals of requests to inspect Yarl's Wood. Her attempts to visit the center were blocked by the Home Office, contravening the code of conduct for members of the UN Human Rights Council and the terms of reference governing fact-finding missions by UN special rapporteurs.
However, calls for an inquiry into Yarl's Wood are nothing new. The scandal surrounding the immigration detention center hit the headlines this year, following an undercover investigation by Channel 4, which exposed the ill-treatment of many immigrants by staff.
A parliamentary report was published just hours after the documentary was shown on television which revealed inhumane, racist and sexist attitudes towards women detained in Yarl's Wood.
Guards were secretly filmed and caught on camera saying: "They're all animals, they’re caged animals. Take a stick in with you and beat them up."
Another officer was heard saying:
"They're all slashing their wrists apparently. Let them slash their wrists."
Another says: "Black women. They're ******* horrible mate."
Sophie Radice from campaign group Women for Refugee Women told Sputnik that Yarl's Wood "should be shut down."
"While we welcome all inquiries into Yarl's Wood, we feel there is enough evidence from the women themselves, past inquires and the Channel 4 report to shut down Yarl's Wood now."
A report by the charity published last year found that 13 of 38 women interviewed at Yarl's Wood had been seen naked by male guards. Sixteen women had been seen showering by male guards and 14 detainees said men had seen them using the lavatory.
"For any women that would be distressing — let along those who have suffered sexual violence," Radice told Sputnik news.
"I'm going there today to visit a woman who has experienced being bust in upon by male guards. She is suffering from poor healthcare, experiencing intimidation and witnessing other detainees’ self-harm. Many women have suffered sexual torture in their own country, so to be burst in on three times a day by male guards is very problematic."
"It's a very, very depressing place – it's a prison. You have social visits, you can't leave. There's a very small exercise area and there's not enough staff. We hear that women feel unsafe and there are guards who are sexually manipulating them."
"It causes untold misery for the women who don’t know how long they're going to be there."
Home Office figures reveal that 30,000 foreign nationals are detained indefinitely in what’s been described at the "black hole at the heart of British justice". Many detainees have never even been convicted of a crime. The cost of indefinitely detaining migrants in Britain is estimated to be around $117 million a year.