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 one of the only countries in Europe to indefinitely imprison people in detention centres. Every year, around 25,000 people are detained by the Home Office without charge and without time limit across seven immigration detention centres. 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:

Stop the hostile environment

Offshoring in Rwanda: what’s the problem and what can you do about it

Last week the UK government announced its plans to initiate offshore processing and settling of asylum seekers in Rwanda. These measures are inhumane, dangerous, and ineffective. They contravene international human […]

The war in Ukraine: How to support Ukrainian refugees

From opening up your home to helping those working on the ground

Call to action: stop the Anti-Refugee Bill

CLICK HERE to use our template letter for Jewish constituents to write to your MP. (You can find your MP by typing your address here.) The Anti-Refugee Bill (Nationality and […]

The Nationality & Borders Bill, what can you do?

The Anti-Refugee Bill (Nationality and Borders Bill) is soon returning to the House of Commons, which means it is time for us to use our voices and contact our local […]

The EU must accept responsibility for the use of violence towards refugees and asylum seekers at Europe’s borders

Recent reporting from numerous NGOs and activist groups has revealed the systematic use of violence against migrants at Europe’s borders. Whilst the EU has tried to distance itself from these […]

Active Remembering: Urgent Significance of Offshore Detention of Jewish Refugees

By Stav Salpeter, Ambassador, René Cassin The Home Office caused an uproar when it announced its plans to reinstate a system of offshore detention last fall. The concern of adopting […]

The New Plan for Immigration: what is it and why is it so harmful?

By Michael Goldin, immigration lawyer and René Cassin detention volunteers group coordinator Earlier this year the Home Secretary published the government’s New Plan for Immigration, which sets out proposed changes […]

Refugee Week 2021

Celebrating the contribution, creativity and resilience of people seeking sanctuary

René Cassin’s response to the government’s consultation on the New Plan for Immigration

At the end of last month, René Cassin submitted a response to the Home Office’s plans to overhaul the asylum and immigration systems in the United Kingdom. A summary response […]

Call to action: sign our interfaith letter against women’s detention centre in Hassockfield, Durham

Read and sign the interfaith letter against Hassockfield HERE René Cassin is recruiting local, national and regional faith groups, communities and individuals across the UK, to sign on to our letter calling […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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. […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

Refugee Week 2021

Active Remembering: Urgent Significance of Offshore Detention of Jewish Refugees

By Stav Salpeter, Ambassador, René Cassin The Home Office caused an uproar when it announced its plans to reinstate a system of offshore detention last fall. The concern of adopting […]

The New Plan for Immigration: what is it and why is it so harmful?

By Michael Goldin, immigration lawyer and René Cassin detention volunteers group coordinator Earlier this year the Home Secretary published the government’s New Plan for Immigration, which sets out proposed changes […]

Life in Wire: Jewish Women and the British Detention System

By Edie Martin, Intern, René Cassin The view of Port Erin, drawn by a male internee on the Isle of Man for the Onchan Pioneer When the events of the […]

Refugee Week 2021

Celebrating the contribution, creativity and resilience of people seeking sanctuary

Refugee Week 2020

Join the Campaign: #CutItOut

Help us campaign to stop hate speech and hate crime

Join the Campaign to #CutItOut

Help us campaign to stop hate speech and hate crime

Virus crisis – yet another reason to close immigration removal centres

“… an unnecessary evil and a totally avoidable catastrophe”

Write to your MP!

Ask them to support amendments to the Immigration Bill on a time limit for detention

Imagine – an end to immigration detention

Coronavirus has shown us that radical change is possible

The kindness of strangers

A Refugee Week poem by Debora Singer

Other campaigns

Our statement on the government’s plan to process asylum seekers in Rwanda

These measures are inhumane, dangerous, and ineffective

Ukraine refugees – government’s response is unjust, unlawful, and inadequate

It belies not just international law, but basic human dignity

2021 – looking back at our year, and forward to the challenges ahead

Lots done in ’21, lots more to do in ’22

HOME, the long way ’round – A collection of poetry by refugees

By Alfie Futerman, René Cassin Ambassador “To be free. Overseas. Where ships set sail in the breeze on its mission, But there’s people on board with lives that they are […]

Support the Domestic Abuse Bill; Ensure protection for migrant women

On the 15th April, the Domestic Abuse Bill will be going back to the House of Commons after its passage through the Lords. MPs will be voting on amendments put […]

The Jewish case against immigration detention is a Jewish voice for women’s liberation

By Esther Raffell, René Cassin’ Campaigns Officer International Women’s Day is a day of joy, affirmation, and resistance. For women and for people of marginalised genders, it can be tough […]

Immigration detention is putting asylum seekers in the UK at risk of suicide and self-harm

By Reanna Smith Immigration detention is putting asylum seekers in the UK at risk of suicide and self-harm. Two years ago, the Guardian revealed that there was an average of […]

Human rights at risk in the UK government’s planned overhaul of the asylum system

by Reanna Smith The UK government has recently promised to make big changes to the UK’s asylum and immigration system, following an increasing number of refugee arrivals via small boat […]

“Home Office Policy For Deporting Migrants Ruled Unlawful”

By Miranda Zeffman On October 20th, the Court of Appeal ruled that a Home Office policy giving migrants just 72 hours’ notice of deportation was unlawful. The ‘Removal Notice Window’ […]

Windrush: Lessons Learned

“I can’t believe I have been treated like this by my beloved England”

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

#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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Right to Remain and René Cassin: Asylum Workshops

We will be repeating these sessions on the 8th and 15th November in 2016. email [email protected] for more information   In the light of the biggest movement of refugees since […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]