No one should be detained in prison

Since 1999 BID have supported over 45,000 people to get out of immigration detention and we have borne witness to and evidenced many gross abuses of state power. Yet over the course of the pandemic we have seen one of the most disturbing evolutions in the use of detention – the regular use of ‘solitary confinement’ for people detained under immigration powers in prisons.

Since March 2020 many (if not all) of our clients have been locked in their cells for anything between 22 and 24 hours a day. Our report with Medical Justice evidences the inhumane conditions our clients have endured. Behind locked doors, hidden from the public eye many have suffered immense and possibly irreversible harm as a result and they recount living in a state of endless despair:

‘The days and nights blur together during confinement. I can barely sleep at night but when I do I experience nightmares. I’m afraid of sleep because I’ll go back into the nightmare but being awake is also horrible.’

The use of ‘solitary confinement’ within prisons for immigration detention represents a sinister intensification of the ‘hostile environment’ where politics and paperwork are more important than the human rights, dignity and lives of human beings.

The Government defends its position as a necessary response to COVID-19 but the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (The Mandela Rules) could not be clearer. Prolonged, indefinite solitary confinement is torture and torture is prohibited.

The legal purpose of immigration detention cannot be reconciled with the conditions in which it is currently taking place. This inhumane practice must stop. Write to your MP asking them to stop detaining people in prison.