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Thursday, 06 December 2018

Indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers 'should put up all to shame'

Written by Elizabeth Arnold

Indefinite detention of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants "should put us to shame", a Labour MP has said.

Tulip Siddiq (pictured) told MPs that detaining people indefinitely was a "blight on their human rights of freedom".

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn called on the Government to "act now" and make provision for a 28-day maximum period of detention under the Immigration Act 1971.

She said: "We have absolutely failed to protect the most vulnerable because we allow them to be detained without any hope, without any reason and without a light at the end of the tunnel."

Her constituency, she said, had a proud history of welcoming immigrants, adding her mother came to Britain as a political asylum seeker in the 1970s and settled here.

Ms Siddiq said: "We're very proud of the fact that Britain is a safe haven for people who can't go back to their country of origin, but there is a practice of indefinitely detaining people in our country that blights the nation and that we should all be ashamed of.

"We are the only country in the EU that indefinitely detains people and we are one of the few countries in the world that indefinitely detains people."

Terror suspects she said could be detained without charge for 14 days while criminal suspects could be detained without charge for 28 days.

She added: "But we do not afford that same protection to refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, which should put us to shame.

"And the people who are detained, they range from nurses, to doctors, to teachers, to students.

"Some of them have no criminal convictions before and have come here to seek economic opportunity. Some of them are former offenders who've served their term and then they have come here to make a life for themselves anew."

Ms Siddiq spoke about the conditions of detention centres and the mental trauma of those inside.

She said: "For those who object and are not taken in by my arguments about it being cruel and inhumane, let's think about the cost and how inefficient the system actually is."

She added that it costs £86 per day to detain someone.

Her Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) Bill was listed for a second reading on January 25 next year but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.