Thousands of immigrants every year face detentions that can last days, weeks or years. An uncertainty which, in many cases, provokes mental health problems, including suicide. However, the campaign #Time4aTimeLimit (promoted by the Detention Forum and member organisations, as well as other individuals and groups across the sector), wants an end to this.
Virginia Moreno Molina
These figures have been published by Inquest, an NGO which collects information about deaths in detention centres. In fact, since the year 2000, there have been 35 deaths in these places.
This issue, together with abuse of immigrants by staff, the traumas and mental problems they face, and the scandals that have been happening throughout the years inside these places, have led more and more organizations, institutions, and members of political parties, to back the need to establish a time limit.
This is why the NGO Detention Forum which includes 40 organizations has committed itself to support the campaign #Time4aTimeLimit, with whom they want to establish a time limit of 28 days to resolve the cases of people detained in detention centres.
Last year alone, 27,331 people entered these centres, of whom 2,138 remained in detention at the end of 2017, according to government figures. Some were detained for weeks, but others might remain for months or even years.
In fact, the UK is the only European country where detention without a time limit exists, leading to the long and unnecessary detention of these people who can be deported at any moment.
At present, there are 10 detention centres in the UK, some of which are run by private security companies, and others by the Prison Service.
It is a system of indefinite detention, which not only threatens the fundamental rights of those detained, but also requires unnecessary costs which amount to an average of as much as “£30,000 to hold someone for 1 year”, according to Refugee Tales. Without any doubt, it is an obsolete system requiring modernisation, and fairer procedures for immigrants.
In addition, taking into account that there already exists a limit of 72 hours detention for pregnant women and children whose parents are seeking asylum, the limit of 28 days would be a way of reducing costs, closing some of these places, and putting an end to the business that detention centres have become.
Detention Forum explains the difference that this change would make: “For example, on 30 June 2018, there were a total of 2,226 people detained in Immigration Removal Centres and prisons.
If there were a 28-day time limit, 59% of those who were in detention on that day (1,316 people) would not have been there.”
In conjunction with this initiative, there is the project ’28 tales for 28 days ‘, run by Refugee Tales, and which is being implemented to draw attention to this issue through the stories of 28 people who have suffered detentions and have worked with them.
Beginning on September 11 the first story will appear on their website, and it will continue like this each day, always referring to the campaign, for 28 days.
Actors who have taken part in the project include Jeremy Irons, Christopher Eccleston, Shobu Kapoor, Maxine Peake, Zoe Wanamaker y Niamh Cusack, as well as the writers Kamila Shamsie, Patience Agbabi, Neel Mukherjee and others, who have been filmed reading the stories.More information can be obtained from Detention Forum y @DetentionForum
(Translated by Graham Douglas – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)