An eventful year for immigration detention campaigns

October 17, 2018

Mishka from Freed Voices looks back on a busy year for detention reform advocates…

We are getting closer to the end of the year 2018. So far, I feel that this year has been quite eventful when it comes to immigration detention campaigns and advocacy. This has been the case for Freed Voices and for all other hardworking groups and organisations that have been doing a significant amount of work throughout the year.

Arrey from Freed Voices speaks about detention reform at a community meeting in Bristol

Arrey from Freed Voices speaks about detention reform at a community meeting in Bristol

This has been especially the case since the follow-up Shaw Review was released. I was pondering: do we have upcoming opportunities to conclude this year with a top-notch ending, so that we can have an amplified start to next year?

I was quite pleased to see that there has been a recent spike of media attention for immigration detention. I remember that the media played an important role in putting the Windrush Scandal on the map and I think the media can play a huge part here – when it is done properly. It has been great to read so many articles over the past few days, featuring knowledge, expertise, viewpoints, and comments by many representatives from organisations working towards immigration detention reform.

I do not expect that we will always see such dynamic media attention; however, I do hope that we will have a considerable amount of ongoing coverage, which will be important. What is important is that the media attention that immigration detention has received becomes a strong pull-factor to draw wider public interest into this ongoing issue.

In the meantime, I read about the independent inquiry to be held into the alleged abuse of detainees at Brook House. Even though the terms of reference of this inquiry are not decided yet, the Home Office has confirmed that that the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) had been asked to carry it out.

I hope that all these developments will add more and more pressure to the Home Office.

When it comes to campaigns and advocacy, I have been admirably watching how so many groups are working really hard throughout the year – including NGOs, charities, communities, and experts-by-experience. I know that there are many different approaches and perspectives, but I think we have an opportunity to end the year on a high. We have two ongoing parliamentary committee inquiries into immigration detention, from the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR).

We have Unlocking Detention 2018 – running from 22 October to 18 December – which is going to be brilliant this year as always. I also foresee upcoming opportunities to meet and lobby more MPs, including the Sanctuary in Parliament event on Monday 12 November. This would be vital, as the next immigration bill is on the way.

Lastly, I also hope that there will be more opportunities that we are currently unaware of that would assist us to conclude this year with a top-notch ending; so that we can have an amplified start when it comes to immigration detention reform campaigning and advocacy next year.

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