JRS welcomes detention report

The Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK has welcomed the report on immigration detention by the panel of cross-party MPs and Peers published today, calling it an “important milestone in the debate around the immigration detention practices of the UK”.  It also calls on the next government to implement the panel’s recommendation of a maximum detention period of 28 days and urges voters at the forthcoming General Election to hold politicians to account, letting them know that the current system has “horrific effects on a detained person’s life and well-being”.

The report by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration follows an inquiry into the use of detention in the United Kingdom. They had received written evidence submissions from 182 individuals and organisations including JRS UK and also held three oral evidence sessions.

Louise Zanré, Director of JRS-UK, says:

“The report from the cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK is an important milestone in the debate around the immigration detention practices of the UK.  We very much welcome it and particularly the recommendations around a time limit on detention.  There is a strong body of opinion, reflected within the oral and written submissions to the inquiry, that the very fact that there is no maximum time limit to detention is harmful to those who are detained.  This is borne out by the experience JRS UK has in visiting and providing pastoral care and support for those who have been and are detained at Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre.  Not knowing when or if a detained person might be released or indeed when or if they can be removed from the UK causes in and of itself untold anxiety to the person detained and can have a serious adverse effect on their mental and physical well-being."

Injustice

“We would call on the incoming government to work towards the institution of a maximum time limit of 28 days to immigration detention in line with the inquiry.  The further recommendation of the inquiry panel that the Government should introduce a robust system for reviewing the decision to detain early in the period of detention will also go a considerable way to mitigating the normalising of the use of detention. Louise Zanre, Director of JRS UK

“Currently the UK detains more people than almost any other European country and is alone in the EU for not having a time limit on detention," Ms Zanré (pictured right) points out.  "The report recognises that there is a need to change the underlying culture behind the use of detention in the UK. The recommendations around time limit and review will redress the injustice of the current system’s horrific effects on a detained person’s life and well-being. 

"It is now up to us in society all to effect the necessary change by holding the next government to account and to let them know that the current operation of the immigration detention system is unjust and cannot stand as it is.”

The inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration was chaired by Sarah Teather MP who wrote about the issues in the latest edition of Jesuits and Friends.