Right to Remain: Unlocking Detention

Immigration detention: how does it affect YOUR community?

Right to Remain is gearing up to run the second Unlocking Detention project, with Detention Action and the Detention Forum.

Out of sight, out of mind?

We first ran Unlocking Detention last year, between September and December 2014, to challenge the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation that has meant detention has yet to be recognised as one of the gravest human rights issues in the UK.  Detention centres are often geographically remote, mirroring the physical and social isolation experienced by the people detained in them.  This means that not only are the centres difficult for friends, family and support groups to visit, they also remain off the radar of the majority of the British public.

Unless you know somebody personally who is detained, you are very unlikely to ever visit an immigration detention centre, know where they are, or be able to imagine what conditions are like for people in detention.

Virtual tour

Unlocking Detention is a ‘virtual tour’ of the UK’s immigration detention centres, shining a spotlight on each of the eleven detention centres in the UK, as well as those detained in prisons (under immigration powers) and short-term holding facilities.  Each week of the tour, which will run again from September to December, focuses on a different centre,  allowing people to share their experiences of the week’s detention centre (either from being detained, or knowing or supporting someone who has) and their views on immigration detention in the UK.

The tour uses blog posts, tweets, and selfies to raise awareness of detention – and we want you to be involved.

Detention and your community

As well as looking at the sites of detention in the UK, we want to hear how detention affects your local area and your community even if there isn’t a detention centre within miles of where you live.

  • For example, are you or people you know at risk of detention, feeling that that threat is always hanging over you?
  • Are people taken away from your community to detention?  Does this happen through stop-and-searches in the street, at bus and train stations?  Or immigration raids on businesses?  How do immigration raids impact on your community?
  • Where are people held if they are picked up, before they are transferred to a detention centre?  A reporting centre? A police station?  A short-term holding facility?  Are there any problems with this?
  • Do you have a detention centre in your local area?  What does that mean for people living nearby?
  • Do people live in your local area/community once they have been released from detention?  Many people find it very hard to forget the trauma and harm of detention – how does this affect the communities you/they live among after release?

The Unlocking Detention project starts in September but we want to hear from you now so we can discuss how to share your views – by writing a blog post, tweeting yourself or asking us to tweet for you, sending a picture, video, sound recording or artwork.

Contact lisa@righttoremain.org.uk to find out more.

Judicial reviews: a vital, often life-saving role in asylum and immigration cases

If we want to look at the very high increase in the number of asylum and immigration judicial reviews, we have to look both at the removal of appeal rights and we also have to go back and look at the quality of decision making by the Home Office and by the Courts.  If decision making was improved, judicial review wouldn’t be necessary in many cases.Cutting legal aid to judicial reviews isn’t going to reduce the quantity of judicial reviews.  People are applying for judicial reviews because they have no other option and in many cases they see it as a way of saving their life.  The cuts to legal aid and the increasing barriers to people being able to apply to judicial review is merely going to result in decreased quality of applications and less people able to access justice.

Read the full article here.

Legal aid cuts deny thousands of vulnerable children justice

New research from The Children’s Society has revealed the extent to which vulnerable children have been hit by the legal aid cuts.The report – Cut Off From Justice – has found that many young people are now attempting to navigate the complex immigration legal system alone, having to represent themselves in immigration tribunals. Others are being put at risk of exploitation and abuse as they try to raise funds for lawyers.

The report finds that without legal aid, huge numbers of children are being left to fend for themselves. Many are having to gather witness statements, evidence about their past and risk having to represent themselves in court — a challenge that even adults find difficult.

Everyone, but especially children and vulnerable young people, should have equal access to the law, no matter their country of origin. Sadly, in the UK this isn’t the case. More and more people are being excluded from justice, denied their basic rights. This is why we produced the Right to Remain Toolkit, to help people to understand the system, and to help each other get through it.

Read more here.

Returns to DRC: understanding the Home Office guidance and recent case law

In July, the Home Office issued new Country Information and Guidance for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).The latest Home Office information and guidance is in response to the disappointing Upper-Tier Tribunal judgment on the DRC country guidance  case on whether someone returned to the DRC (voluntarily or by force) is at risk of mistreatment or harm by virtue of having claimed asylum in the UK and/or having been convicted of an offence in the UK.

Read an explanation of the Home Office guidance and the recent case law on our legal blog.

Impact of the Detained Fast Track suspension

On 2 July 2015, the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced he was suspending the Detained Fast-Track system, part of the asylum process.  This was in response to several successful legal challenges.  Read our blogpost on the announcement here.

Listen to this handy audio piece by Detention Action, the organisation that successfully challenged the Fast-Track in the courts, which explains what impact the suspension has had.

Dr Susannah Willcox, one of Detention Action’s advocacy coordinators, explains that around 70 people per day have been released from detention following the suspension.

“[People whose cases are currently in the Detained Fast-Track system] people who are waiting for a decision on their asylum claim or are going through the appeals process … there should be an assessment of the time-frame that’s required for them to get sufficient evidence to support their asylum claim or their appeals.

For people who are appeal rights exhausted, it means there is some scope for them to get legal advice on whether or not their asylum case and their appeals were heard in a way that was fair and lawful, or whether there are some aspects that can now be challenged in light of the suspension of the fast-track and the relevant judgments that have been handed down.”

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