The high court judgement Justice Linden has declared that the decision of the Home office to house asylum seeking migrants in the Napier barracks at Folkestone was illegal.
A BBC article reports that Six male asylum seekers had filed a case in the high court protesting against the conditions in the barracks, and the home secretary Priti Patel could face claims for damages.
Some of the reasons why allegations of unlawful housing of migrants were made was because of the unsafe conditions in the barracks, which squalid, overcrowded, and the migrants were denied privacy, violating their human rights.
The home office through its contractor was planning to house over three hundred migrants in the Napier barracks. These barracks had dormitories designed to house twelve people each, but were overcrowded and did not have proper safety facilities.
This resulted in a fire at the facility in January. Additionally there was a coronavirus outbreak at the facility in April this year, and about two hundred migrants were affected. The Public health England (PHE) had also warned that the conditions at the Napier barracks were not suitable, yet all the warnings were ignored by the home office and its contractor who went ahead with their plans for housing the migrants.
The migrants claimed that the overcrowded Napier barracks lacked proper ventilation and buildings were decrepit. The migrants were forced to live in communal dormitories even during the pandemic, increasing the possibility of coronavirus infection. The facility was not clean and there was only one shower for one hundred people.
There was no electricity or hot water. Additionally the facility was also a fire risk. Though the migrants were supposed to live at the Napier barracks voluntarily, it was like a detention centre. The fence had barbed wire to prevent unauthorized entry and exit. Additionally the gates of the facility were padlocked, and had uniformed security guards to regulate the movement of the migrants.
After the court judgement, campaigners especially human rights activists have asked the government to close the facility immediately, claiming that forcing the migrants to remain there was inhumane.
However, the Home office has claimed that the facilities were in keeping with the public health guidelines. They also claimed that they were making improvements in the facility to make it more liveable.
Some of the migrants who had health problems were moved out to other facilities.
Though the barracks were emptied in April 2021 after the coronavirus outbreak, they are being filled again according to activists and conditions are degrading.