Detainees should be held the shortest time possible
4th February 2009: Over 22 million pounds are used each year on detaining 188 refused asylum seekers who have been held for more than a year in UK, a study has shown.
The reports by London Detainee Support Group reveals that this period has gone for up to more than a year and in one case rising to eight years while it is supposed to last for the shortest time possible for the purpose of removal. This has been seen as a waste of time and money.
Despite the political and media backlash over detaining terror suspects for 42 days, detention of asylum seekers for more than a year without a charge has been a common thing.
”Indefinite detainees are trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare without end, unable to be released or deported. The UK is one of a very few countries in Europe that persists in detaining with no time limit, despite the evidence that it does not work. The government does not detain terror suspects for longer than 28 days but it detains asylum seekers for years. Indefinite detention is futile, expensive and immensely damaging” said Jerome Phelps, Director of London detainee Support Group.
According to a genocide survivor from Darfur, Ahmed Abu Bakar Hassan who has been detained for 27 months, life to him seems to be hard as he has been living in a locked room with no windows. “I feel suffocated. I feel that I’m locked up in a room and the keys are lost. I’m disconnected from life,” he said.
The hardest hit countries are Algeria, Somalia, Iraq and Iran with their citizens serving for more than a year. Algeria and Iran routinely refuse to admit people unless they can provide an original passport, meaning that stateless detainees remain in detention for periods of years.
However, the commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg recommended in September last year for a maximum time limit for administrative detention be introduced into the UK legislation like it as in France and some other Council of Europe Member states.
By Stephen Ogongo