Unlimited UK immigration detention fuels modern slavery

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Many of these people in immigration detention have suffered horribly before they were put into detention.  Some are victims of human trafficking and torture. They have suffered enough.  People in immigration detention are in effect facing prison like conditions in some cases for very long periods of time.  UK visas at the Home Office has a very bad reputation when it comes to the way in which it treats migrants.  One organisation that is campaigning against indefinite detention of migrants is Unlocking Detention.  We are actually using one of their images as the main image for this news report.

Former Conservative cabinet minister, David Davis, has warned UK Home Secretary Priti Patel that UK immigration indefinite detention rules are fuelling modern day slavery, ahead of a fresh Commons battle to abolish the policy. In an interview with The Independent, Davis urged Patel to stop holding people, without charge, for months or even years.

Mr Davis warned Patel of the ‘devastating’ psychological impact that the policy has on those held in immigration detention facilities across the UK. Ending the practice of indefinite detention has been backed by two other former Tory ministers, with many others expected to join them, ahead of a vote set to take place in July.

Ministers are calling for a 28-day limit on detention to be enforced instead. Mr Davis said: “The indefinite detention of migrants, many of whom have fled to the UK from torture, sexual abuse, conflict or have been trafficked into the country, involves all kinds of cruelty and they are not criminals.”

“Unlike people who are given a prison sentence, they don’t know when they are going to get out – and that is psychologically devastating,” Davis added.

David Davis says Home Office may resist ending the practice

Mr Davis went on to say that he is ‘all too familiar’ with what Home Office bureaucrats will be saying to Home Secretary Priti Patel on the practice. “They will be telling her to resist calls to end the practice,” Davis said. However, the former Tory minister has urged Home Office officials to ‘look at the natural justice of this.’

Davis said: “We are a country which prides itself on its justice system. Yet, on the one hand we are supposedly campaigning against modern slavery, but – in the way we operate our holding centres – in some ways, we are exacerbating it.”

Criticism of the policy seemingly echoes research highlighting that trafficked women – rather than being offered assistance by authorities, as promised – they are instead locked up and face deportation, which adds to their trauma.

The United Nations Human Rights Council recently blasted Britain for being the only EU country with no statutory time limit for the detention of immigrants.

A recent investigation uncovered that survivors of torture, trafficking and rape are among those held in UK immigration detention centres for months and sometimes years and they’re more prone to self-harm and suicide attempts.

UK immigration bill

Following the recent second reading of the UK immigration bill in parliament, Mr Davis has seized the opportunity to propose an amendment to the bill that would strictly limit detainment in a UK immigration detention centre to 28 days.

Mr Davis’ proposal also suggested the introduction of judicial oversight of detention after a period of four days, and establishing a clearer criteria for holding someone in a removal centre.

Proposed amendments to the UK immigration bill have been backed by fellow Conservatives, Steve Baker – the former Brexit minister and Andrew Mitchell – the former international development secretary.

Mr Mitchell described the Home Office’s indefinite detention policy as a ‘stain on UK democracy’, while Mr Baker said he was ‘proud’ to back proposed amendments to the bill, saying: “We must bring greater humanity to the UK immigration system.”

Policy manager at the campaign group Liberty, Sam Grant, has called on MPs to back the suggested amendments, arguing that the coronavirus crisis has ‘laid bare the inhumanity’ of the immigration detention system.’

Mr Grant said: “The new, UK immigration bill is a chance for redemption, but that will only be achieved if MPs learn the lessons of the past and reform the immigration system so that humanity, dignity and respect sits at its core.”

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