Ever since the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention published its report last week, news media has been awash with stories illuminating what many of us have known for a long, long time: namely, that “the current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust” and that “little will change by tinkering with the pastoral care or improving the facilities” – we need fundamental, structural change.
At the centre of this coverage (and the report) have been the voices of those directly affected by immigration detention. Among them, the Freed Voices group – a group of experts-by-experience committed to speaking out about the realities of detention and campaigning to end the government’s policy of indefinite detention – have played an active, crucial role. Working tirelessly to stress the significance of the report, they have grounded its recommendations in reality, confirming (loudly) that those voices who gave their testimony to the panel were indeed heard and they won’t be silenced going forward. Here are some of their choice cuts…
Michael from Freed Voices and Detention Action director, Jerome Phelps, speak to Al Jazeera about the importance of heeding the report’s call for an immigration system based on ‘engagement not enforcement’:
Front-page spread in the Independent newspaper, featuring Freed Voices members Kuka (right) and Michael talking about their experiences of the Detained Fast Track and indefinite detention, respectively.
Another front-page spread, this time in the Guardian newspaper, featuring Souleymane from the Freed Voices group, who spoke at length about how detention was worse than prison – “in prison you count your days down, in detention you count your days up” – and how he had had to “work hard to forget the mental torture of detention.”
Michael from Freed Voices demanding change on BBC Africa:
Souleymane also spoke to the BBC online about his three and half years in detention (which included two and half years in Dungavel IRC in Scotland) and did a follow-up piece on Scottish equivalent of Newsnight alongside Jerome. You can also listen to him speak live on BBC Radio 4 from the launch of the report (17.50 onwards).
Stay tuned for more Freed Voices activities between now and the General Election in May…