35 NGOs urge the Home Affairs Select Committee not to ignore the issue of unlawful detention

, 3 October 2011: Today, 35 NGOs have written to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), urging him to ‘apply scrutiny to the issue of unlawful detention’ in their forthcoming inquiry into asylum and migration.  The letter was drafted by Bail for Immigration Detainees, Freedom from Torture and Detention Action after the idea was mooted at the Detention Forum quarterly meeting on 14th September. 

Some of those who were at the Detention Forum quarterly meeting expressed their fear that the HASC’s forthcoming inquiry into asylum and migration would bypass detention issues altogether.  It was agreed that NGOs should write collectively to the HASC to ensure that the Committee is made aware of NGOs’ growing concern that the detention issue remains largely unexplored by the Government despite its huge human and financial costs.

In particular, the letter highlights the problem of unlawful detention: the detention of vulnerable people such as torture survivors and those who are held in detention for an extremely long time without any time limit.  It also notes cases where parentsare detained and separated from their children unlawfully.

The signatories include small groups that visit immigration detainees, large national refugee charities, other NGOs concerned about the treatment of migrants as well as faith groups.  Some of those signatories will also be writing to the HASC individuallyto raise their specific concerns.

The current list of signatories is available below.  If your organisation would like to add your voice and/or be kept on the mailing list so that you will be contacted whenthere is another action, please contact Eiri Ohtani at detentionforum(at)gmail.com. All organisations and groups, regardless of whether they have signed this letter or not, are encouraged to lobby the HASC directly now by raising specific issues relating to immigration detention so that the inquiry will treat detention issues seriously.

The list of signatories as of 3 Oct 2011. 

Gina Clayton, ASSIST (Sheffield)

Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees

Maurice Wren, Director, Asylum Aid

Richard Taylor, Chair, Asylum Welcome (Oxford)

Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees

Teresa Elwes, Grants Executive, The Bromley Trust

Gill Baden, Campaign to Close Campsfield

Rosemary Kidd, Chair of the Churches Refugee network

Puck de Raadt, Churches Refugee Network

Sarah Hayward, Coalition Against Bullingdon Immigration Removal Centre

Jerome Phelps, Director, Detention Action

Vebi Kosumi, Director, Dover Detainee Visitor Group

Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director, The Equal Rights Trust

Abigail Stepnitz, Poppy Project National Coordinator, Eaves Housing for Women

Keith Best, Chief Executive, Freedom from Torture

Nic Eadie, Director, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group

Anne Dickinson, Coordinator, Haslar Visitors Group

Louise Zanre, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service

Kate Adams, Kent Refugee Help

Emma Ginn, Co-ordinator, Medical Justice

Lisa Matthews, Campaigns Coordinator, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

Patsy Brand, Chair of Trustees, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum

Vaughan Jones, Chief Executive, Praxis

Chas Raws, Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN)

Dave Garratt, Chief Executive, Refugee Action

Donna Covey, Chief Executive, Refugee Council

Rita Chadha, Chief Executive Officer, Refugee & Migrant Forum of East London – RAMFEL

Simone Abel, Director, René Cassin

Anna Beesley, Coordinator, Scottish Detainee Visitors

Anne Leeming, Chair, Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group

Emma Williams, Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees

Erin Power, Executive Director, UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group

The UNITY Centre, Glasgow

Heather Jones, Coordinator, Yarl’s Wood Befrienders

Sarah Harland, Coordinator, Zimbabwe Association