Asylum and Detention

Throughout their history, Jewish people have been forced to seek refuge from persecution. Yet, the UK is increasingly detaining those who seek shelter here. Is this ever more draconian regime necessary, fair and proportionate?

The UK has a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ attitude towards asylum seekers and migrants in general – as a result, many face unjust hardship in their quest for asylum and sometimes even after they receive it.

One of the biggest problems for those seeking asylum here is the UK’s system of detention. Current policy on detention is opaque and violates human rights. The UK’s use of detention has increased in the last ten years and there is concern about whether detention is used fairly and proportionately. There is no time limit on detention and there is no need for detention to be sanctioned by a court – asylum seekers can be deprived of their liberty for indefinite periods on the say-so of an immigration officer.

Campaign Updates:

Time for a time limit campaign

Minorities amongst Minorities

Minorities amongst Minorities: The LGBT experience in UK Detention Centres  René Cassin Personal Project Emma Falley July 2017 René Cassin works towards a world where everyone can fully enjoy their human rights. The organisation draws on Jewish experiences and values to make a compelling case for human rights values and to campaign for change. René […]

What do the Manifestos say about Human Rights?

The key questions to ask your candidates

Five key questions to ask your local candidates

Human Rights and the General Election

Oppressing the stranger – another death in UK detention

There are community-based alternatives to the fatal inhumanity of immigration detention

‘Lost humanity? Vulnerable Women in Detention’

How immigration detention affects women – and what Jewish teaching can tell us

‘A prison in all but name’

This article is published as part of ‘Unlocking Detention’ – an annual ‘virtual’ tour of the UK’s detention estate, which aims to shine a spotlight on one of the gravest civil liberties issues in Britain today. Michael Goldin is an alumni of the René Cassin Fellowship Programme and previously worked for the JCWI. I first […]

18 months campaigning against indefinite detention

It has been an incredibly busy 18 months within our campaign to end indefinite detention. We’ve achieved some great breakthroughs but we still have plenty to do. Read our report on all the work that we’ve been doing with our partners below. You can download the full report here Members of the Jewish community putting […]

Write to your MP today!

Latest on the Immigration Bill. Lords Ramsbotham’s amendment on judicial oversight returns to the House of Commons on the 9th May. Now is the time to write to your MP asking them to shed a bit more light into the murky detention system. The Government also agreed for the first time to an element of […]

New Video. Detention in the 1940s: The story of Fritz Lustig

Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War as thousands of desperate people flee war-torn countries in the Middle East. Jewish experience is littered with episodes of fleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary. Like many people seeking asylum in Britain today, thousands of Jewish refugees were interned by their hosts. In the […]

Put a key on your Seder plate this Pesach

As we celebrate freedom at our Passover Seder, we remind ourselves of those whose freedom is still restricted. Get involved and take a small step to help raise awareness of the plight of those in indefinite detention and tell people that it is time for a time limit. You can download the poster here or find more […]

‘Amir died at his most vulnerable…’

On the 17th February, Amir Siman-Tov was sadly found dead at Colnbrook Detention Centre. The details around the circumstances of his death are still unclear. Amir is the 26th person to die in a UK detention centre. His death comes in the wake of  continued calls for reform to the immigration detention system. We hear a […]

Response to death of Amir Siman-Tov at Colnbrook Detention Centre

On the 17th February, Amir Siman-Tov was sadly found dead at Colnbrook Detention Centre. The details around the circumstances of his death are unclear. The Jewish Chronicle have covered the story here The Jewish News have covered the story here The Israel National News picked up the story here His death comes in the wake […]

Shaw Review – positive but piecemeal

In May 2015, René Cassin submitted evidence to the Shaw Review into the welfare in immigration detention of vulnerable persons. Our submission highlighted the fact that the review would never be able to deal entirely with the issue of vulnerability whilst ignoring the central issue of indefinite immigration detention. The 350 page report out today again demonstrates […]

René Cassin again raises the indefinite detention of asylum seekers

Following our submission to the Immigration Bill Committee last month, René Cassin has written to the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights. We have again raised the issue of the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and called for the government to introduce a time limit to detention. The Immigration Bill provides the perfect opportunity for this. The […]

Asylum Detention Past and Present – René Cassin hosts event at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue

Last Sunday, as part of Mitzvah Day, René Cassin hosted an event at the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue in order to raise awareness of indefinite detention. We heard compelling talks from Thiru, a member of Freed Voices who has recently been through the detention system, and Fritz Lustig, a 96-year old German-Jewish man interned […]

“Broken and unfair” – René Cassin Director calls for immigration detention time limit

Speaking at an event called in response to the refugee crisis, René Cassin’s director, Mia Hasenson-Gross was asked: “What changes in UK law do you think are needed to address the issue of indefinite immigration detention?”. Read her reply …

Detention Debate in Parliament

Today, 10th September 2015, Parliament sat down to debate detention for asylum seekers and refugees. Impassioned pleas were made by over 25 MPs, from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party. All MPs who spoke commended the report and called for radical change to the detention system. There was unanimous support for the […]

Religious Leaders on Immigration Detention: A Force to be Reckoned With

Leaders from René Cassin and Tzelem attended the London Church Refugee Network meeting to discuss interfaith campaigning on indefinite detention. Read more here.

Detention Interfaith Tent

Recently, Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders assembled at Harmondsworth Moor. The Moor sits five miles from the home of Magna Carta and a few feet away from Harmondsworth Detention Centre. The faith leaders met to raise their voice together in solidarity with those held in indefinite immigration detention in the UK as part of the […]

Detention Fast-Track Procedure Suspended

Minister for Immigration James Brokenshire has today announced the suspension of the Detained Fast Track asylum process in its entirety, following a series of successful legal challenges brought by Detention Action. The announcement follows the suspension of the appeals stage of the Fast Track by the Court of Appeal on Friday. The Minister said: ‘Recently the […]

René Cassin submits evidence to review of immigration detention

René Cassin were invited to submit evidence to the the Shaw Review of Welfare in Immigration Detention. Our central proposal is a simple one – the abolition of indefinite detention. René Cassin Shaw Review

Rabbis speak out after visit to detention centre

Rabbis speak out after visit to detention centre Representatives from the rabbinical social justice group Tzelem attended the Harmondsworth Detention Centre to see conditions first-hand. They spoke to detainees and their stories shocked and moved them. After seeing the physical and mental damage caused to vulnerable people, they brought a message home to their communities: […]

‘Lost Souls’ of the Detention System

‘Lost Souls’ of the Detention System The House of Lords debated immigration detention on the 26th of March 2015, demonstrating great compassion for the plight of some of the most vulnerable people in Britain. Lord Lloyd of Berwick, in his valedictory speech, chose to discuss this pressing issue, and René Cassin was present to capture […]

Immigration detention – “expensive, ineffective and unjust”

Harmondsworth fence

René Cassin welcomes today’s report by The Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the UK. The report damns the current system as “expensive, ineffective and unjust” and calls for fundamental reform. The cross-party inquiry recommends that: There should be a time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can […]

Other campaigns

A Tale of Two Countries

Have a read and find out what our brilliant work experience students Soroh, Jessica and Julia, have been doing with us this Summer…

‘Cruel and Disproportionate’

In response to Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from seven Muslim countries, Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of René Cassin, commented: “Donald Trump’s ‘refugee ban’ is cruel, disproportionate and runs counter to international humanitarian law. René Cassin agree with broad swathes of civil society condemning Trump for his actions. The fact that this ban was announced on […]

René Cassin @Limmud #RefugeeDay

Find out about René Cassin’s refugee-themed day at Limmud Conference 2016

Government backtracks on 500% fee increases in Immigration Tribunals

René Cassin is pleased that the Government has reversed the 500% court fees increase in the immigration tribunal. Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of René Cassin, previously said that the massive hike in costs would ‘result in justice being delayed and denied to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.’ It was announced that  fees […]

Asylum Workshops – November 8th & 15th

Want to help people through the asylum system? Find out how at these free workshops

Slavery Chief Warns of Modern Day Slavery Exploitation of Asylum Seekers

Kevin Hyland, the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner has written a letter to Theresa May highlighting that delayed efforts to provide asylum to unaccompanied child refugees in Calais exposes these children to the risk of modern slavery and exploitation. The letter comes shortly after Theresa May pledged millions of pounds to tackle the issue of modern day slavery. Kevin Hyland […]

500% court fee increase to go ahead despite opposition

The Government has announced that plans to implement increases of up to 500% in court fees for immigration and asylum cases will go ahead, despite all but five of 147 responses from the Government consultation opposing the move. René Cassin submitted evidence raising serious concerns around access to justice. Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of René Cassin, responded […]

#RefugeesWelcome march

This Saturday, the 17th September, tens of thousands of people will be marching in solidarity with refugees. If you want to join the Jewish bloc, you can meet outside Marble Arch Station at 12.15. Read why this matters to the Jewish community here. Find out more about the march here.      

The Story of the ‘Refugee People’ is not over yet…

Kezia Niman writes about the indelible link between Jewish history and the refugee crisis

Open Letter to the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd

Dear Home Secretary, Congratulations on your appointment. Your government has committed to leave the European Union while maintaining Britain’s position as a compassionate and outward facing country, meeting our global responsibilities. We are writing to urge you to maintain and increase the UK’s support for people who have fled violence, conflict and persecution, as part […]

It’s Refugee Week!

The 20th June is World Refugee Day and the beginning of Refugee Week. Read our statement below and check out our twitter to look at all the different events going on up and down the country.   You can download our statement here

Justice is open to all – like the Ritz Hotel

The UK government has proposed increasing the fees that need to be paid to appeal an asylum or immigration decision in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal in England and Wales. René Cassin will be responding to the Government’s consultation. The consultation is open until 3 June 2016. Take part in the consultation You can also sign this […]

Right to Remain and René Cassin: Asylum Workshops

We will be repeating these sessions on the 8th and 15th November in 2016. email sam.grant@renecassin.org for more information   In the light of the biggest movement of refugees since the Second World War René Cassin has been inundated with requests from people seeking to understand how the UK asylum system works and how they can help those […]

René Cassin and Tzelem Lobby Peers on Immigration Bill

The current Immigration Bill is so far a missed opportunity to put an end to the harmful practice of indefinite detention. We have joined together with Tzelem to Lobby Peers and you can read our joint letter below: If you want to get involved and help us on this campaign please don’t hesitate to email info@renecassin.org […]

‘An opportunity that should not be missed’ – Submission to the Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill is currently at committee stage in Parliament. There are many policy entry points within this bill and you can find a briefing on the Bill here. The Bill represents an opportunity to end the indefinite detention of vulnerable people. We’ve submitted our thoughts to the committee and you can see our submission […]

Modern Day Abrahams

We spent Shabbat at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue and gave the sermon on immigration detention. Click below to find out what the Torah portion ‘Chaye Sarah’ has to do with indefinite detention. D’var Torah – Modern Day Abrahams

Is Britain Fairer?’ – not for some, new report reveals

In the most comprehensive review ever carried out on progress towards greater equality and human rights protection in Britain, The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today reveals ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ over the past five years. Jewish human rights charity René Cassin, which campaigns on issues that resonate with Jewish historical experience – such as […]

‘Immigration Detention – then and now.’ Mitzvah Day at NPLS

Harmondsworth fence

Sunday 22 November, 1pm Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, 18-24 Oaklands Gate, Northwood, HA6 3AA The UK is the only country in the whole of Europe that does not have a time limit on how long an individual can be kept in detention. Join us and Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue as we explore the […]

The Refugee Crisis – the Jewish community’s response

Wednesday 7 October, 7pm at JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET

As Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, find out how the Jewish community has come together to offer tangible ways to make a difference.

The Refugee Crisis

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Refugees fleeing Syria and other nations where they are facing unprecedented levels of persecution have this fundamental human right. It is our duty to ensure these rights are fulfilled […]

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons joins call for a time limit on detention

Nick Hardwick, the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, has today found that Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre ‘is failing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable women.’ For the first time, the government-appointed inspector has joined calls from a parliamentary inquiry, which René Cassin collected and submitted evidence to, for a time limit on […]

Fear and prejudice here and abroad

Fear and prejudice here and abroad Gay, lesbian and bisexual asylum seekers face discrimination at every step of the process. The already harrowing experience of indefinite detention is worsened when you experience an extra layer of prejudice. The UK must do more to prevent harm coming to people seeking sanctuary on our shores.

Hidden Detainees: the Secret Struggle

Hidden Detainees: the Secret Struggle There is a significant discord between the number of immigrants detained in the UK and that reflected by the official Home Office figure. This is because government statistics arbitrarily ignore an entire class of immigrant detainees: those held in Prison Service Establishments. This article, by Talina Hurzeler, explores the implications […]

Objection to Campsfield expansion

Immoral, Inefficient, Ill-timed … René Cassin calls for halt to plans to expand Immigration Removal Centre 14 January 2015 As part of our work with the Detention Forum and our ongoing campaign to end indefinite detention, René Cassin has called for a moratorium on the expansion of the detention estate. In line with this call we have submitted […]

Helping asylum seekers tell their story

During my time with René Cassin, I have been meeting with asylum seekers who had been detained in UK immigration removal centres. They had very different stories but with something in common: they all had experienced great suffering in their lives. It was not easy for me to hear their stories, but obviously it was even […]