The government has been urged to reveal how many asylum seekers
are detained each year and the length of time they are detained for
by a leading human rights charity, writes Amy
To coincide with the launch of Refugee Week, Amnesty
International has launched a report which argues that the asylum
system is in chaos.
The charity suspects that over 25, 000 asylum seekers were
detained in the UK in 2004 and says that it is ‘gravely
concerned’ that this information is not available.
The government publishes quarterly figures on how many people
are being detained but this is only a snapshot figure taken on a
The report states that while the authorities put out an image to
the public that detention only happens for short periods of time to
asylum applicants whose claims have failed just before they are
removed, in reality, this is not the case.
In many cases, detention is protracted, inappropriate,
disproportionate and unlawful with many of those who are detained
eventually being allowed to stay in the UK, it adds
Amnesty goes on to call for alternative non-custodial measures,
such as reporting requirements, to always be considered before
resorting to detention and for an automatic review of the
lawfulness of the decision to detain someone by a court or similar
independent body to take place in every case.
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen, said:
“Thousands of people who have done nothing wrong are being
locked up in the UK. We found that in many cases there was no
apparent reason to detain people.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The power to detain an
individual is an essential part of protecting the integrity and
effectiveness of our immigration controls. It is also central to
our drive to increase the number of failed asylum seekers we remove
and ensuring the public can have confidence in a system that is
both robust and fair.
“It is also essential that those we do detain should be treated
with humanity and dignity and we are committed to ensuring that
this is the case.
“We are currently studying the Amnesty report in detail and
welcome this opportunity to have a sensible debate about
immigration and asylum issues.”