Judicial Oversight: demand your MP shines a light into one of the darkest corners of the UK detention estate

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On Monday 25th April, the Immigration Bill returns to the House of Commons. We’re calling on our supporters to contact their MPs, and make sure they add their voice to the Lords’ judicial oversight amendment. 

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There is currently no maximum length of time the government can hold an individual in immigration detention and decisions to detain, and to continue to detain, are taken by Home Office officials with no judicial oversight.

Amendment 84 introduces automatic judicial oversight of immigration detention for the first time and is a vital step towards (the government’s own stated aim) of reducing the number of people in detention and the length of time they are detained. The amendment would require the Home Secretary to gain the permission of the First Tier Tribunal if she wanted to detain an individual for immigration purposes for longer than 28 days.  The automatic judicial oversight would not apply in cases involving people who have either been given a criminal sentence of 12 months or longer or who face deportation.

Download and read Detention Forum’s briefing on Amendment 84.

While migrants in detention have the right to apply to the Tribunal for bail, this is not a right that is accessible in practice to everyone. In the most extreme cases, someone in full psychological collapse will be unable to instruct a solicitor, let alone make a bail application. Many people in detention are unrepresented, speak little or no English, and do not understand the system that has locked them up.

Many more are too confused or depressed to avail themselves of the right to apply for bail. The fact that the Home Office has five times in recent years been found to have breached the Article 3 rights (torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of mentally ill migrants in detention, demonstrates the need for automatic judicial scrutiny.

Contrary to its title, the Amendment 84 would not introduce a time limit, or provide automatic judicial oversight for all those who are detained by the Home Office. But it would provide an important judicial safeguard to the Home Office’s powers of detention, currently unchecked. Crucially, Amendment 84 would also create a norm that detention should generally not last more than 28 days.

Download the Detention Forum‘s briefing on the Lords’ judicial oversight amendment and contact your MP today.