Changes in legal aid threaten to hit the most vulnerable

Ahmed, a survivor or torture from Iran, was represented by GMIAU. Before meeting the solicitor from GMIAU, he had made two suicide attempts and was experiencing trauma symptoms including nightmares and intrusive thoughts.

In all the early sessions with his counsellor and interpreter, Ahmed was so disturbed he was unable to respond to any questions asked by the counsellor. He would freeze and be unable to speak. If there was a desk in the room, he would fall completely silent and often leave the room, as the desk reminded him of his interrogation cell. Ahmed’s lawyer at that time was in London, but Ahmed was too psychologically disturbed to make the journey and often missed appointments. Continue reading “Changes in legal aid threaten to hit the most vulnerable”

Immigration detainees failed by system

An important new report from Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), A nice judge on a good day: immigration bail and the right to liberty, reveals the systemic failures within the Home Office and the legal system which consign detainees to oblivion for months or years.

Liberty is regularly proclaimed as one of the most important of our fundamental human rights. But the right to liberty does not appear to be taken so seriously for those without British passports. This casual attitude towards the liberty of foreigners is manifested by the refusal by successive governments over the past forty years to legislate for a maximum period of immigration detention, and the failure to ensure other safeguards, such as automatic judicial oversight of detention and access to legal representation. There are few votes in reform of immigration detention, and the attitude seems to be that those whose right to be in the country is in question have no right to liberty. Continue reading “Immigration detainees failed by system”

SERCO contract continues with Yarls Wood until April 2013 – £32m

Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre contract extension

Our contract to operate, manage and maintain the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on behalf of the UK Border Agency has been extended for a further three years from April 2010 to April 2013. The extension is valued at around £32m.

The coalition vows to stop locking up child asylum seekers – but, after some serious schmoozing, hands Serco another £32m to keep running Yarl’s Wood.

Call for detention reform – letter to the government 23 June ’10

27 organisations across the UK called for an urgent review the country’s immigration detention system.  The letter sent to Damien Green and Theresa May on 23 June ’10 continues: ‘We believe that a sensible option is a moratorium on the opening of further immigration removal centres until an independent inquiry has fully examined the current use of detention’.

OutCry! campaign – It’s not over yet!

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It’s not over yet, and we need your help.

Take action – email the Minister and join the Release Carnival!

The last few days have seen lots of news about the immigration detention of children. The new Government made a very welcome commitment last week that they would “end the detention of children for immigration purposes”. This was followed shortly afterwards by a statement from Damian Green, the new Immigration Minister, setting out their plans for “a comprehensive review” and his hopes to have “plans agreed within the next few months”. It soon became clear that the Government intended to continue detaining children while their review took place – on Monday a mother and her eight-month old baby were detained at Dungavel detention centre in Scotland. But then almost immediately, following pressure from the Scottish Government, the UK Border Agency announced that no families would be detained in Scotland. Instead, families would be transported to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire… Continue reading “OutCry! campaign – It’s not over yet!”

Welcome ruling on detained Iraqi Kurds

A ruling in February that the continuing detention of one of the thirty-four Iraqi Kurds deported to Baghdad and refused admission to Iraq was unlawful, should benefit others held for deportation for years with no prospect of speedy return.

In October 2009, a charter flight left the UK with forty-four Iraqi deportees on board, bound for Baghdad. The flight, the first for five years, was the culmination of five years’ negotiation with the Iraqi authorities. But the flight returned to the UK with thirty-four Iraqi Kurds still on it, all refused entry to Iraq. The refused Iraqis were returned to detention. A number of them launched legal challenges against their detention. In the lead case, that of Mr A, the High Court judge made a ruling which, although addressing Mr A’s specific situation, will have positive implications for the other detainees. Continue reading “Welcome ruling on detained Iraqi Kurds”

Indefinite immigration detention costs money, time and lives

Analysis and Conclusions

The Detained Lives research demonstrates the failure of the UK’s blind reliance on immigration detention as a panacea to the challenges of immigration control. Asylum seekers and foreign ex-offenders are seen as a problem that can be resolved with sufficient toughness. Indefinite detention is the logical culmination of years of increasingly repressive immigration policies: yet it does not work. LDSG’s evidence shows that indefinite detention is a largely ineffective means of deporting people. This exercise in futility has an enormous human cost to the lives of those on the receiving end.

The research makes clear that indefinite detention is a reality and may even have become routine, given that one small charity has worked with 188 indefinite detainees over an 20 month period. The importance of this in itself should not be understated: indefinite detention corresponding to no criminal sentence is an extreme measure. In no other corner of society does anything comparable take place: the criminal justice and mental health systems only hold people indefinitely in rare and extreme cases. The reluctance of society to tolerate 42 days detention without trial of terrorist suspects stands in stark contrast to an immigration system that gives little respect to the civil liberties of foreign ex-offenders. Continue reading “Indefinite immigration detention costs money, time and lives”