Shaw Review II must focus on cutting detention drastically

As Liberal Democrats we have been championing the cause of ending indefinite detention for immigration purposes for some years now. We have strongly supported every move for the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry into Immigration Detention, and the Government commissioned Shaw Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons.

Two years ago the APPG said that “the UK detains too many people for far too long” and urged government to radically reform the detention system, starting with introducing a 28 day time limit.

18 months ago the Government was urged by the Shaw Report to act “boldly and without delay”. Statistics just released show that there has been no change in the trend of long-term detention.  Thanks to Detention Forum for these graphs showing this so clearly.

Length of detention for those leaving August 2017

Length of detention

Indefinite detention is having a terrible effect on health, and even worse effects on mental health of detainees. £76 million a year is wasted on long term detention of migrants who are ultimately released. Lives and money are being wasted.

You can read more in this excellent blog by Detention Forum here . There is also a good article in The Guardian by Paul Blomfield MP.

But you need to do more than read about it. Share it, put on social media, tweet it with #Time4aTimeLimit, contact the media and your MP about it.

Shaw Review II begins on September 4th and it is important that they know that there is a demand for not just tweaking the system around the edges, but a determined push for a drastic reduction on the use of immigration detention, AND it really is time for a time limit on detention.

people entering and in detention

people entering and in detention

Reasons for leaving detention

Reasons for leaving detention

Learning to communicate in English

LD4SOS have submitted this policy motion, of learning to communicate in English,  in the hopes that it will be able to be discussed at our September Conference.  Learning to communicate in English final words

(UPDATE – we are pleased to say that it has been accepted for debate at our conference)

Baroness Sally Hamwee said in a House of Lords debate :

Our regard for people is reflected in our language.  I shall say a word about language and Refugee Action’s campaign Let Refugees Learn, a campaign to improve language provision to refugees. Being able to understand and make oneself understood is fundamental to integration. A young woman from the DRC has said:

“One thing I’ve realised, when you can’t talk to people, it’s really very hard. They smile but can’t talk to you and you can’t talk to them”.

There are English language classes with waiting lists of two years and close to 1,000 people, reductions in learning hours and the doubling of class sizes. Teaching English should be regarded as an investment in the often highly skilled and highly motivated people who seek asylum here. Words are our tools, so we should understand the need.

Lord Roger Roberts, standing up speaking out for those left behind

Roger in H of L speaking up for Syrian refugees and unaccompanied child refugeesLord Roger Roberts, in the House of Lords after the Queen’s Speech this week:

“…In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any.

Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to upgrade that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I shall quote part of a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia:

“You have to understand/that no one puts their children in a boat/unless the water is safer than the land
No one burns their palms/under trains/beneath carriages
No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck/feeding on newspaper/unless the miles travelled meant something more than journey.
No one crawls under fences.
No one wants to be beaten/pitied
No one chooses refugee camps/or strip searches where your/body is left aching/or prison/because prison is safer/than a city of fire … ”.

The accusation is that they have:
“messed up their country and now they want to mess ours up”.

I could go on but I had better not. In the United Kingdom, there are many victims of the harshest circumstances.

We in the House of Lords can lead the way in defining the character of the United Kingdom. Is it be one of which we are proud, that we are delighted to be part of, or do we have to say, “This is not in my name”?