Asylum and Detention

Throughout history, the ability to seek refuge has been essential to Jewish survival. However, in the UK today, those seeking refuge can be indefinitely locked up in immigration detention centres.

Imagine if you were locked up, and no one knew your release date.

The UK is the only country in Europe to indefinitely imprison people in detention centres. Every year, around 30,000 people are detained by the Home Office without charge and without time limit. Described by a cross-party group of MPs as “expensive, ineffective and unjust”, indefinite detention is rendered unnecessary by the fact that many of those detained are eventually released back in to the community.

René Cassin is proud member of the Detention Forum and, as an essential step towards a fairer system, has long campaigned for the introduction of a 28-day time limit on detention. In other areas of law, 28 days is the maximum time considered acceptable to hold someone without charge. Evidence shows that after 28 days, the detrimental impact on mental health increases significantly. René Cassin also supports alternatives to detention, which would make the immigration process more humane, more effective, and less costly.

Campaign Updates:

Time for a time limit campaign

Remembering Amir Siman-Tov and the cost of the UK’s immigration system

by Michael Goldin, Coordinator of the Detention Jewish Visitors Group On Sunday 1st March I attended an event to mark the yatrzheit of a friend of mine, Amir Siman-Tov, who died in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in 2016. The event was put together by Jewish Solidarity Action who organise to promote equality, justice and anti-racist […]

Vote for Human Rights!

Key questions to put to anyone asking for your vote on 12 December

Kindertransport to the Hostile Environment: Britain’s Immigration System Then and Now

Report of our Parliamentary event for Refugee Week 2019

The Lethal Policy of Indefinite Immigration Detention

René Cassin’s Campaigns Officer, Hannah Swirsky, writes in Jewish News Online: In Britain each year, around 25,000 migrants and asylum seekers are routinely locked up in detention centres – often for months, sometimes for years. No trial. No redress. No knowing when they will be released. No time limit on how long they can be […]

Refugee Week 2019

René Cassin is proud to support Refugee Week 2019 (17-23 June). Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, co-authored by our namesake Monsieur René Cassin, states that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” and “the right to a nationality”. The need to protect these […]

MPs Call for End to Indefinite Detention

By Bella Lever Last month, the Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report which called for a time limit on indefinite detention. One of the key reasons they list in support of a time limit is the potential for indefinite detention to ‘trigger mental illness and exacerbate mental health conditions where they already exist’. […]

Parliamentary Committee Backs Call for a 28-day Time Limit

Last week the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published its report on immigration detention in the UK, joining René Cassin, and many others, in the call to end indefinite detention. Key recommendations from the JCHR: Independent decision making. To ensure adequate safegaurds and rigour, the decision on whether to detain someone should be made […]

These Walls Must Fall in Bristol

Two Bristol students discuss the successful campaign for Bristol City Council to pass a These Walls Must Fall motion. Imagine this – you’re locked up, and you don’t know your release date. No one will tell you, because most of the time, they don’t know either. This is the reality for 30,000 people, each year, […]

René Cassin submits evidence to Parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention

Post-Brexit, the UK has a unique opportunity to set the tone when it comes to progressing human rights. We promote a 28-day limit for immigration detention, and an increase in the use of alternatives to detention

Shaw Review 2: “The time that many people spend in detention remains deeply troubling”

Stephen Shaw has published his long-awaited second review into UK immigration detention.

2018 Has Seen Our System of Immigration Detention Go from Bad to Worse

Michael Goldin calls for government reforms to an “appalling” system of immigration control.

“They are playing with people’s lives” – treatment of Jewish refugee highlights the UK’s shameful policy of indefinite detention

“I thought that Britain was a country of human rights but this is not the case in detention”

Solidarity as a Jewish Value: Why René Cassin is Setting up a Jewish Visitors Group

Interested in supporting someone in immigration detention? We want to hear from you!

Protesting at Yarl’s Wood: How Judaism Informs My Activism

By Jess Baker

‘The Windrush Generation’ – statement by René Cassin

The Government must provide adequate resources to confirm the secure immigration status of all affected

Women in Hunger Strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre

Government criticised over treatment of detainees

‘A Matter of Routine’ – the cruelty and absurdity of indefinite immigration detention

28 day limit and community-based schemes offer more humane alternatives

René Cassin Goes Live – Immigration Detention Discussion

Our Campaigns Manager, Sam Grant, took 30 minutes to discuss the issue of Immigration Detention with Jeneration Students. Have a listen to Sam discussing what René Cassin do, what Immigration Detention is and what the Jewish community can do about it. Live with Sam Grant from René Cassin – What can the Jewish community do […]

Abuse in Detention is a Symptom of a Wider Problem

In response to an upcoming BBC Panorama undercover documentary examining immigration detention, G4S have suspended nine members of staff pending abuse allegations. You can read their statement here. The mistreatment is being condemned by politicians and civil society.  However, the problems go much deeper than just nine members of staff. The immigration detention system is […]

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

Like many people seeking asylum in Britain today, thousands of Jewish refugees were interned by their hosts. In the 1940s, along with tens of thousands of other individuals, mainly Jews, Fritz Lustig was detained on the Isle of Man.

Watch our video to learn about his story and what the differences and similarities are between then and now.

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

The Forgotten Human Price of Immigration Detention

Javid wants policy to be fair, respectful and decent. UK policy is none of these.

Its Refugee Week!

Refugees enrich our society – but many suffer unfair and disproportionate treatment

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, 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 of the UK’s response to the global refugee emergency”.

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 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 […]

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

The Bill represents an opportunity to end the indefinite detention of vulnerable people

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 […]