Abuse in Brook House: Freed Voices open letter

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We are Freed Voices.

Together we have lost over 20 years of our lives to detention in the UK. Last night’s Panorama, “Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets“, showed horrific scenes of abuse and mistreatment of people in detention. This is something anyone who has been detained can relate to. Sadly, it is neither unique nor isolated – it is routine in detention. Freed Voices members have been detained across the country and we all share the same stories of violence, emotional abuse and sleepless nights.

In detention, you are just a number. 

The system is set up to dehumanise you, to make you feel that you are wrong, that you have no place in this country. But last year, more than half of the 28,000 people detained were released back into the community. Their detention, like ours, was pointless.

The UK is still the only country in the EU with no time-limit on detention. 

Indefinite detention is a human rights abuse that undermines the whole immigration system. It allows staff to act with impunity, as though they have licence to assault and abuse. All you can do inside detention is count your days up and up. It is a psychological torture and the uncertainty of your situation means that even people who go in without mental health issues, come out with some kind of trauma. Of course, the Home Office will blame G4S. G4S will blame its staff. But it’s not time for finger pointing, it’s time for a time limit.

In detention, everyone loses. 

There’s already mountains of evidence that detention doesn’t work, and several Parliamentary reviews, including the Shaw Review commissioned by the government themselves, have recommended radical reform. But where is it? No more excuses. The government promotes British values of fairness and human rights around the world. It is time to practice what they preach at home. We want to see the walls of detention fall.

TAKE ACTION

Now is the time that you speak to your MPs, Peers and your communities about the urgent need for detention reform, starting with a time limit. See Detention Forum’s useful briefing paper for more details.