Together with London Churches Refugee Network, Citizens UK and Detention Forum, Detention Action are holding a candlelight vigil to remember those who have died in immigration detention and to stand in solidarity with their respective families.
The event will be held on Friday 31st October, from 6.30pm to 7.30pm/8pm and will include speakers with direct experience of detention. This is an opportunity to reflect on the suffering that goes on in detention as well as a chance to urge people to call for an end to indefinite detention.
Sarah Teather MP, Chair of APPG on Refugees and Chair of Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention
Bamidele Hassan, former detainee, now a student with full refugee status
Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, Chair of Churches Refugee Network and London Churches Refugee Network
Where: St John’s Church in Hoxton, Pitfield St, London, N1 6NP. The church is situated at the junction of New North Rd and Pitfield St, a short walk from Old St or Hoxton stations, and close to the 271 and 394 bus routes.
When: Friday, 31st October 2014 from 18:30 to 19:30
Why: Detaining people indefinitely in prison-like conditions without judicial oversight is unjust, ineffective, costly and inhumane. It destroys lives and breaks up families.
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Britain is the only country in Europe that holds refugees and migrants in immigration detention with no time limit. No judge or magistrate are asked to approve or oversee their imprisonment. The decision to lock them up is made by civil servants. Alleged criminals can be detained for 72 hours and alleged terrorists for 28 days. Migrants and refugees are neither.
Immigration detention used to be the last resort in administration of removals. In 1993 the number of people in detention was 250. In 2013 nearly 30,000 people were detained, many for months and some for years.
£76 million per year is wasted on the long-term detention of migrants. In 2009/10 The Home Office paid out £12 million in compensation and legal costs arising from unlawful detention.
However, the human cost of indefinite detention is immeasurable. The evidence of trauma and suffering is heartbreaking. Families are torn apart and lives are ruined in the name of administrative convenience. Since 2013 nearly 400 suicide attempts were recorded.
Vulnerable people, including women who suffered sexual violence, are not given proper medical or legal attention. Tragically, since January 2013, five people have died while in detention:
Rubel Ahmed, 26, from Bangladesh, died on Friday 5th September 2014 at Morton Hall in Lincolnshire. Fellow detainees say he had been complaining of chest pains for more than an hour but had not received the help he needed.
Christine Chase a national of Jamaica aged 40, died in Yarl’s Wood on Sunday 30th March 2014. Ms Chase had been living in the UK for the last fourteen years.
Tahir Mehmood, aged 43 a national of Pakistan: Died in Pennine House short term holding facility on Friday 26th July 2013 while waiting to be removed.
Khalid Shahzad Died on Saturday 30th March 2013. It has been confirmed that Mr. Shahzad, was discharged from Colnbrook IRC as medically unfit to remain in detention on Saturday 30th March. He was travelling back to Manchester by train and died around 19:15 on the journey.
Alois Dvorzac an 84-year-old Canadian entered the UK on the 23rd January 2013 and was immediately detained. According to the Canadian High Commission in London he was trying to find his estranged daughter in Slovenia. He made it as far as Gatwick airport. He was detained there because his paperwork was not in order and was eventually brought to Harmondsworth IRC. He died handcuffed to his bed on 10th February 2013.
We also remember Prince Kwabena Fosu, a 31-year-old Ghananian detainee found dead at Harmondsworth on 30th October 2012. Other people detained at the centre issued a statement following the death that made a number of serious allegations about what happened to Prince Ofosu and about the poor treatment of others at the centre. They alleged that guards at the centre restrained Prince while in the ‘block’ (segregation unit) and that he had been held naked in his unheated cell.