Speaking last week at a refugee crisis event at London Jewish Community Centre, JW3, 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?”
This was her reply:
“The government must not only address how many asylum seekers are let in but how they are treated once in the UK.
Unfortunately Souleyman’s story (his first-hand account of indefinite detention) is not the exception – he is one of over 30,000 individuals locked up without trial and without a time limit every year in ten detention centres across the UK.
The reality is that for those seeking a safe place, the struggle continues well after arrival in the UK.
René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, has been campaigning on the issue of indefinite detention and contributing to long term advocacy work.
The UK is the only country in the whole of Europe that does not have a time limit on how long someone can be kept in detention. This is a system that has been branded by Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs as inefficient, expensive and unjust.
This inefficient system costs us, the UK taxpayers, £76 million pounds a year with £12 million of that being paid in compensation to those unlawfully detained.
But more importantly it is an unjust system – we heard Souleyman’s experiences – this is a system that heaps further uncertainty, fear and suffering on some of the most vulnerable people within our society. There is inadequate health support, inadequate legal support.
We have torture survivors, pregnant women being held in detention – only yesterday the court ruled in favour of a pregnant woman who was unlawfully arrested and denied access to ante natal care at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.
And all of this with no time limit, no knowledge of when this captivity will end. It is not surprising that this leads to multiple mental health issues, suicide attempts and in some tragic cases, death.
So to answer your question – this is a system that is broken, unfair and benefits absolutely no one. It is time for the UK government to introduce a time limit on detention!“