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100,000 demand an end to indefinite immigration detention

Cross-party support from MPs including Harriet Harman and Andrew Mitchell © Amnesty International UK / Marie-Ann Ventoura

Thank you much to the many thousands of you who took action demanding an end to indefinite immigration detention. 

On 8 May 2019, we handed in your 100,000-strong petition, alongside Liberty, Women for Refugee Women, Freed Voices and the Asylum Justice Project.

Cross-party support from MPs included Harriet Harman, Andrew Mitchell, Tim Farron, Stuart McDonald and other senior MPs from across Westminster.

The UK must end its unacceptable and inhumane practice of indefinitely detaining people in immigration removal centres and radically reduce the number of people it locks up.

Indefinite detention must end.

What is indefinite detention?

In most cases, there is no time limit on how long someone can be detained. For most, detention lasts a few weeks, but some are held for many months and even years. Over half of the people detained are then released back to live in the UK. When someone is detained they have no idea how long they will be held for. This can have a terrible impact on their mental health.

‘I don’t even know myself anymore. You don’t know what’s next and what’s not next. So, you don’t have a reason to live sometimes.’
Elizabeth, aged 31

The UK locks up thousands of people in immigration detention every year. In 2018, 24,748 people were put into detention. This even includes survivors of torture and sexual abuse, and those with serious medical problems.

The UK has one of the largest immigration detention networks in Europe. Most people are held in large purpose-built detention centres along with hundreds of others. Hundreds of people are also held in prisons.

What needs to be done?

There is an urgent need for change. The government must reduce its use of immigration detention, introduce a time limit for all of those detained and ensure a judge has automatic oversight when someone is detained.
Parliament is currently considering a new immigration bill which could be an opportunity to bring in these reforms.