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Overwhelming Response to Immigration Detainee Visitor Programme on Portland

Verne

7:42am 3rd March 2014

Over one hundred people went to a Weymouth meeting to find out how they can help immigrants held on Portland.

The Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees wanted to see if there was enough interest to create a local group to visit the new Immigration Removal Centre, formerly the Verne, so held a meeting on the 27th of February which around 120 people attended.

They told Wessex FM that the local response was overwhelming and that their next step is to now try and form a solid band of volunteers who'll receive training. They say will also have to work closely with the IRC to discuss the access they will be allowed.

Wessex FM spoke to Symondsbury-based human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, about the creation of a local visitors group. Clive has spent years helping people who face the death penalty and has been credited with helping more people than any other lawyer or law firm to gain release from Guantánamo Bay.

So, with all his extensive work with detainees we asked Clive if visitors helped their plight, "Visitors play this tremendous role, and visitor is a technical term- it's not just that you visit prison- you're going there to help people out. And over the years I've known some wonderful people who've gone in just to try and bring a little humanity to people who're often in a very difficult situation."

Clive, who's also been listed as one of Britain's most powerful lawyers said there's a general problem with how society views immigrants, "People don't recognise they're in fear for their lives if they go back to the Country they come from, there's one person I knew who was going back to another country who was deathly afraid and he got sent there and he got killed. So, we need to have a much more open-minded approach to the people we call immigrants."

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