We seem to be having a ‘wholesome’ day here at Ijo Pona HQ. Kathryn is at a Church Parade with her Girl Guide group and I am left to my own devices. Rather than just head back to bed to catch forty winks, I decided to try and put my time to good use.
That is, after all, the purpose of being here as a person – you have no say in your arrival or what you arrive with – but it is up to you to make something of it. And, if I can help other people get along, then it will help me get along.
This is what I ‘made’ today …. I decided to write to Andrew Jones, Harrogate & Knaresborough MP. Believe it or not, the right to a trial before imprisonment is still not available for people fleeing strife in foreign lands. Habeas corpus (/ˈheɪbiəs ˈkɔːrpəs/; Medieval Latin meaning literally “that you have the body”) is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful. The right to a fair trial – for only crossing a border – is still being denied to thousands by the British Government.
Dear Andrew Jones,
There is growing criticism of Britain for being the only EU country without a statutory time limit for the detention of immigrants, including criticism by the UN Human Rights Council. Every year the Home Office locks up tens of thousands of people – including survivors of torture, trafficking and rape – and gives them no idea when they will be freed. The lack of a time limit destroys mental health. Self-harm, suicide attempts and deaths are common. This is state-sanctioned suffering on a vast scale.
Survivors of torture, trafficking and rape are among the tens of thousands held in overcrowded centres – for months, or even years – where a recent investigation uncovered “widespread self-harm and attempted suicides”.
The Home Office has paid £21.2m to migrants it unlawfully detained over the past five years, laying bare its “chaotic decisions” it was alleged.
Now campaigners believe a looming immigration bill offers a fresh opportunity for MPs to pass an amendment to impose a strict 28-day limit. Will you back this movement?
“A stain on our democracy”
– Andrew Mitchel, Former International Development Secretary
Almost 30,000 people are detained each year in the centres, with several hundred held for longer than one year. One person was held for more than four years, according to The Independent. I don’t think it’s right to hold people in detention indefinitely. It’s wrong in principle and this is an issue that really matters.
A suspension of Habeas corpus in this day and age, Andrew Jones? Really?
Half of immigrants leaving detention centres end up being released into the community – rather than deported – where monitoring them cost 80 per cent less, according to the latest figures.
Will you back a 28-day limit if it is supported by a fresh independent review into the welfare of immigration detainees, to be published in June by Stephen Shaw, a former prisons and probation ombudsman?
Most British people would be surprised to find out it is possible to be detained indefinitely in this country – something that goes back to Habeas corpus. I would like to see Britain use methods that have proven to be effective in other countries – such as Sweden – if Stephen Shaw says any consequences with a 28-day limit can be overcome. Will you add your voice?
“Indefinite detention is not only cruel, but costs hundreds of millions of pounds.”
– Afzal Khan, Shadow Immigration Minister
I will re-iterate my point: will you back a 28-day limit if it is supported by a fresh independent review into the welfare of immigration detainees, to be published in June by Stephen Shaw, a former prisons and probation ombudsman? Or, will you blindly suspend Habeas corpus, unlawfully, for another year?