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‘Inhumane’ indefinite detention must end, religious leaders tell Government

16 February 2018


Passengers at the UK Border at Heathrow Terminal 2, in July 2015

Passengers at the UK Border at Heathrow Terminal 2, in July 2015

RELIGIOUS leaders have called on the Government to stop the indefinite detention of immigrants, which they describe as “unjust, ineffective and inhumane”.

Senior representatives from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Hindu Council, the Sikh Federation, Reform Judaism and others have called for the Home Secretary to use the post-Brexit immigration bill to impose a 28-day limit on detention for immigrants.

In a statement released by Liberty, the human rights organisation, on Friday, they say: “The UK is the only European country without a statutory time limit on immigration detention. The routine use of indefinite detention is unjust, ineffective and inhumane. Evidence shows that it causes huge harm — not only to those detained but to their family, children, friends and community.

“The time to act is now. We urge the Government to put some fairness, decency and due process into our immigration system and urgently put a 28-day time limit on detention.”

After the 2017 General Election, the United Nation’s refugee agency (UNHCR) asked the Government to end its “reliance on detention” and introduce a time-limit.

Liberty has launched a public campaign, End Indefinite Detention, and the religious leaders have added their signatures to a petition to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

Canon Mark Oakley, the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said: “There’s no fairness, compassion or common sense in locking vulnerable people up and giving them no idea of when they might see their friends and family again.

“This is not about immigration. It is about how we treat fellow human beings. It cannot wait until Brexit is done and dusted — the Government must include a 28-day time limit on detention in its immigration bill.”

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the lead RC Bishop for migration and asylum, said: “It has been demonstrated time and time again that indefinite immigration detention not only violates people’s basic human dignity, but that it serves no meaningful purpose.

“It is shameful that we lag behind every other EU country in abolishing this practice and I sincerely hope that the Government will commit to introducing a more humane system at the earliest opportunity.”

According to Liberty, the UK holds more than 30,000 people a year on immigration grounds, including elderly people and survivors of rape and torture. These detentions are not signed off by a judge, and there is no legal time limit.

An immigration bill to tackle the UK’s post-Brexit situation is expected to be presented to the House of Commons in 2018.


Mark Oakley: Stop this state-sanctioned suffering

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