In conclusion, it is the voices of those involved who make the most powerful case for change in the UK. Their experiences should be considered by governments when seeking to create policy on detention and case resolution. In the UK, as the government considers next steps, it is the voices of those in the pilot that should be at the centre. By understanding their experiences we can build a more humane system for all:
Updated 6 January 2023: The Brook House Inquiry: Read the full report.
The evidence received by the Inquiry makes clear, in the view of Medical Justice, that the Home Office is not capable of providing a humane system of immigration detention which respects fundamental rights and is consistent with the health, safety and dignity of those held within it. Troublingly, the recent events at Manston Short-Term Holding Facility provide further stark evidence of this lack of respect and inhumanity. Rather than expanding the use of detention, it should be reduced and phased out.
If administrative detention is to continue at all, its use should be truly an exception rather than routine, and subject to strict statutory criteria and a time limit. This view was widely expressed across all parties giving evidence to the Inquiry13. Like HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMIP), Medical Justice agrees that Brook House – and other prison-like facilities – should never have been used to detain people for administrative purposes. Such places certainly should not now continue to be used to hold persons detained under immigration powers.
Written by Lucie Audibert (Lawyer and Legal Officer, Privacy International) & Monish Bhatia (Lecturer in Criminology, Birkbeck, University of London)
Through its use of GPS tags and smartwatches in immigration enforcement, the UK is extending the reach of surveillance and control of migrants to frightening levels.
In early August, we learned that the Ministry of Justice had awarded a £6m contract for ‘facial recognition smartwatches’ to be worn by foreign national offenders. The devices will track their GPS location 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will require them to scan their faces up to five times a day. The information obtained from the devices, including names, date of birth, nationality, photographs, and location data, will be stored for up to six years and may be accessed by the Home Office and shared with law and border enforcement agencies.
Aderonke Apata says she has Home Office to thank for career as she fought removal to Nigeria
A refugee who has just been called to the bar says she has the Home Office to thank for her career after she became an amateur legal expert while locked up in a detention centre.
Aderonke Apata, 55, from Nigeria, said she was proud to take part in a ceremony last week where she, along with dozens of other newly qualified barristers, were formally called to the bar.
Apata was almost forcibly removed from the UK on a Home Office charter flight to Nigeria in January 2013 after her asylum claim, based on the fact that as a lesbian who had been persecuted in Nigeria her life would be in danger if she was returned there, was rejected.
Apata had completed a degree in microbiology before fleeing Nigeria and hoped to pursue a career in public health in the UK.
She was detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire, which at the time was used mainly for women, from the end of 2011 until the beginning of 2013, including a week spent in solitary confinement in 2012.
During her time in Yarl’s Wood, more women – who either could not understand English or did not understand what the Home Office had written in refusal letters about their immigration claims – turned to Apata for help in explaining what was happening with their legal cases.
Quakers in Oxfordshire are campaigning against the re-opening of a notorious immigration detention centre.
The Home Office has announced plans to reopen the Campsfield House centre in Kidlington, north of Oxford, in 2023 as a new immigration removal centre.
While the government calls this part of the “fair but firm immigration system,” Quaker asylum experts say that detaining asylum seekers is expensive, ineffective and criminalises people who do not arrive through formal resettlement schemes.
Rooted in the conviction that there is that of God in every person, Quakers across Britain work to protect and welcome people seeking sanctuary.
Quakers point to the fact that well over 70 per cent of asylum claims are upheld, with even more being upheld on appeal, confirming that most asylum seekers are ‘genuine’, by the government’s own definition.
Campsfield House was closed in 2018 after a long campaign by Quakers and others and following riots, escapes, hunger strikes and a teenage suicide The new plans have been condemned by Oxford City Council and Layla Moran MP, who has started a petition against it.
Bridget Walker of the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network and member of Oxford Against Immigration Detention, formerly the Close Campsfield Campaign, said the group were opposed to all immigration detention. “The Close Campsfield Campaign was a long haul and now we are in it again,” she said.
Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration said the new centre would ensure there was enough detention capacity to “safely accommodate individuals ahead of removal.”
But Quakers point out that the government’s own Shaw Review has labelled conditions in detention centres unsafe, with thousands of vulnerable people detained for prolonged periods.
The decision to reopen Campsfield comes hot on the heels of Home Office attempts to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda where they would become subject to Rwandan immigration rules.
14 June 2021: from BID and Liberty: Our letter, signed by 42 organisations, was covered in an article below in the Guardian
The most recent Home Office bail policy sets out its plan to transition from radio frequency monitoring to GPS monitoring for people on immigration bail. Whereas radio frequency monitoring can verify whether a person is where they should be at a given time, GPS monitoring provides 24/7 real time location monitoring, tracking an individual’s every move: it tells you where someone has gone, where they have shopped, what GP’s practice they have been to, and much more. Those who are being monitored in this way do not know when the ordeal will end because there is no time limit for how long people will be tracked.