Immigration detention inquiry launched

24 July 2018

The Joint Committee on Human Rights calls for evidence on the areas in which the UK’s immigration detention system fails to comply with human rights and fails to protect against arbitrary detention and asks whether there are effective mechanisms to challenge immigration detention.

Immigration detention

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is conducting a series of inquiries into issues arising under Article 5 of the ECHR, which provides the right to liberty and security.

Our inquiry into the detention of members of the Windrush generation found that the treatment of these people was shocking. In particular, basic human rights protection had been breached in the immigration detention process. Courts have found aspects of immigration detention to be “inhuman and degrading” more than once.

There are also concerns about:

  • detainees’ access to legal services;
  • detainees’ access to health services;
  • the effectiveness of legal mechanisms for people to challenge their detention;
  • the screening and treatment of vulnerable individuals; and
  • conditions in detention centres.

Despite criticism from several organisations and international bodies, including the UN and its agencies, the UK remains one of a handful of countries without a legal time limit on immigration detention. Stakeholders have argued that the lack of time limit increases the risk of arbitrary detention and can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s mental or physical health.

Terms of reference

  • Whether current legal and policy frameworks are sufficient in preventing people from being detained wrongfully and whether current practices in the detention system protect human rights
  • Whether the initial decision to detain an individual should be made independently, such as by requiring prior judicial approval;
  • The operation of arrangements for bail;
  • Whether immigration detention should be time-limited and if so the maximum period (including the length of detention in practice);
  • How far current policies ensure that people are only deprived of their liberty if it is necessary, rather than for administrative convenience;
  • Whether alternatives to detention are properly explored and used;
  • Detainees’ access to legal advice and their ability to engage with the legal processes to challenge their detention;
  • Detainees’ access to health services; and
  • Conditions in detention.

The Committee will also take account of the recommendations within Stephen Shaw’s follow-up review into the welfare of vulnerable people in detention, once this is published.

Get involved

The Joint Committee on Human Rights invites submissions of no more than 1,500 words from interested groups and individuals. The deadline for submissions is 7 September 2018. Please send your submissions via the written submissions form.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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