Time to End Detention

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

by Pinar Aksu

Outside Dungavel detention centre, Scotland. Photo Credit: Pinar Aksu

People move for various reasons. Some want to start a new life, some have no other choice but to move. Then once they move, they are given different labels: asylum seeker, refugee, illegal, migrant- however none are called or treated as human beings.

People claim asylum in the UK, to be protected and to become a refugee. To have human rights. However, if the application is refused then they will be sent back to their country of origin. That is when detention is used. In the UK there are 10 Detention Immigration Removal Centres (detention centres). Most detention centres are run by private security companies such as Serco and G4S. Detention centres are like a prison, where people cannot leave the premises and have very limited movement within the centre.

People could be detained for a day, a month or for years. The UK is the only country in Europe which does not have a time limit on detention in its detention centres. Even in prisons, people know when they will be able to leave, however in a detention centre this is not the case. Conditions in detention centres for asylum seekers are designed to discriminate and make people feel isolated and hopeless. Over time, this severely impacts on people’s mental health.

Last year, more than 2 people died in detention centres across UK. People who come to the UK seeking asylum and safety are dying under the immigration system. Instead of creating a safe environment and assessing cases based on human rights, the immigration system in the UK is creating a platform where people are detained, made destitute and become hopeless.

The system cannot and must not continue like this. All people should start getting involved in their communities and local groups to organise and campaign against detention centres. We need to get involved with groups that are campaigning to end detention and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

We need to educate ourselves and the wider public about detention, asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and all people moving. We need to create a platform and a space where we can get to know one another through conversation. Most importantly, we need to remember that asylum seekers, refugees or migrants, they are all people with experiences and stories, not numbers with name tags- human beings.

Pinar Aksu is a human rights activist and a community worker based in Glasgow, Scotland. Pınar continues to campaign to end detention and fight against racism.

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