Children in detention – meeting in London Monday 13th December 2010

COALITION BROKEN PROMISES: Notwithstanding the government’s promise to end child detention, and immigration minister Damian Green’s promise to have it ended ‘within weeks’ of July, and Green’s promise back in the summer to visit Yarl’s Wood dressed as Santa if children were still being detained this Xmas, children continue to be locked up for immigration purposes. Continue reading “Children in detention – meeting in London Monday 13th December 2010”

Ending children’s detention: hope deferred

By Frances Webber 11 November 2010

The announcement that children will continue to be detained until at least March 2011 reveals the coalition’s true priorities.

It was supposed to be the face of the compassionate, caring coalition, defying cynical critics and overriding entrenched bureaucratic cruelty to do the right thing. ‘We will end the immigration detention of children’, the bold announcement said, one of the earliest of the new administration.

But within weeks it was apparent that the new government was not making radical departures from the old. First of all, the announcement was, and remained, in the future tense – ‘we will end’, not ‘we have ended’ this barbaric practice, so harmful to children that it creates depression and attempted suicide in ten-year-olds. It was not possible to put the new policy into practice, we were told, until alternative ways had been found of securing the removal of families with children, who were likely to abscond otherwise. In other words, doing the right thing was not unconditional. Continue reading “Ending children’s detention: hope deferred”

Immigrants to be charged for appeals

The MoJ said the new fees will save about £29m a year

Immigrants and asylum seekers will have to pay for appeals against decisions made over their cases, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said.

Fees will apply to appeals against decisions refusing someone leave to remain, leave to enter, or vary their current leave to remain in the UK.

The fees will initially be between £60 and £250, some people will be exempted.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said immigrants already contribute through application fees. Continue reading “Immigrants to be charged for appeals”

Deportation imminent – detention indefinite

The futility of indefinite immigration detention is laid bare in a recent report by the London Detainee Support Group (LDSG), No Return No Release No Reason.

Full report here in pdf: No return, No release, No reason – challenging indefinite detention Sept 2010


1. The UK should end its derogation from the EU  Returns Directive and adopt a maximum time limit for detention. The evidence shows that extended detention more often leads to release than deportation. The UK should follow best practice in the EU and implement a time limit of one month.
2. Likelihood of imminent deportation should have priority in decisions by UKBA and the Tribunal to initiate and continue detention. Detention, if it must be used, should only be used for deporting and removing people. Where this is not imminent,
deportation can be pursued while the person is in the community.
3. The detention of mentally ill people should end. The distress and psychological deterioration caused to mentally disordered detainees is disproportionate to the ends sought by immigration control.
4. Decision-making by UKBA and the bail courts should be evidence-based. Assessments of risk to the public should be undertaken by the National Offender Management Service, and should form the basis of risk assessments in considering
detention or community-based alternatives. UKBA should only assert a high risk of absconding in an individual case where a clear evidential basis exists. UKBA should publish its internal management information on procedures and timescales for obtaining travel documents from all national embassies. This information should be considered by the Tribunal in assessing whether
deportation is imminent.
5. Where deportation is not imminent, communitybased alternatives to detention should always be used. UKBA should study the successes of the Swedish and Australian models, which have achieved high rates of voluntary return through an emphasis on dialogue with asylum-seekers and migrants in the community. Continue reading “Deportation imminent – detention indefinite”

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”