Detaining people as soon as they claim asylum undermines people’s civil liberties and should be abolished.
We believe the Detained Fast Track is unfair and unnecessary and may lead to people with good claims for asylum being refused protection. We are challenging the Detained Fast Track in the High Court so that we can end this injustice. We need to raise £10,000 in total to take this case forward and to support our campaign. Join us on the London Legal Walk - we’ll all be walking together and raising money together. Please let us know if you’d like to join the walk at email@example.com. Please sponsor our team generously to fight for justice for detained asylum seekers.
We are also raising the issue of the Detained Fact Track in parliament. To make our work even more effective, it is useful for the Minister for Immigration to hear concerns from a large number of MPs. Please write/email or visit your MP and ask him/her to raise this issue in parliament.
You can use the template letter below to draft the letter. You may like to include a Parliamentary briefing.
House of Commons
I am writing to express my concern at the UK Border Agency practice of detaining asylum seekers while their asylum application is processed. I believe that the Detained Fast Track system is not only ineffective in its aims of dealing with asylum claims quickly but also undermines people’s civil liberties.
The UK is almost unique in Europe in detaining people from the moment they claim asylum to the minute they are removed from the country. Challenges have been brought to the European Court of Human Rights where judges have expressed concern over the practice but ultimately ruled that detention would be acceptable for around seven days in low security settings.
However, the current reality for detained asylum seekers in the UK is vastly different. Men on the Detained Fast Track scheme are held in wings of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre that were built to the security levels of a Category B prison. Furthermore, evidence shows that many people are detained for weeks or even months longer than the European Court’s seven day standard.
UKBA policy now states that from arrival at a detention centre the asylum process should take 22 days. But in contrast, Detention Action (formerly London Detainee Support Group) has gathered evidence of long delays before the asylum process starts, without legal advice. Over half of a sample of 45 asylum-seekers were detained for two weeks, and one quarter were detained for three weeks, before the asylum process had even started. In essence, they were deprived of liberty for weeks without charge and in most cases without access to legal advice.
The historic justification for the policy of the Detained Fast Track has rested on the high volume of asylum applications and a backlog of cases. The government’s answer to this problem has been to use detention with the aim of the fast resolution of asylum claims. However, these conditions no longer exist: asylum applications are down by 79% since 2002 and the backlog has largely been resolved. The evidence shows that asylum applications which are heard in community settings can be resolved in a faster, fairer and cheaper way than those on Detained Fast Track. For these reasons, Detention Action is calling for an end to the Detained Fast Track.
I urge you to raise your concerns with the Immigration Minister and ask that he include the Detained Fast Track in his current review of the asylum system.
I look forward to hearing from you.