In a report on the wrongful detention of Windrush-era citizens, published today, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has highlighted a “systemic failure” to safeguard against wrongful detention.
The report focuses on the cases of two Windrush-era citizens who were subjected to immigration detention and finds that, in deciding to detain them, the Home Office ignored evidence of their citizenship and placed an unreasonable burden of proof on those it was considering detaining.
The report states “We found the Home Office’s approach to, and handling of, Windrush immigration detention cases dehumanising and deeply problematic. In both cases multiple opportunities to resolve Mr Bryan and Ms Wilson’s cases and to confirm their status were missed. They were seemingly treated with suspicion and incredulity despite consistent information and evidence, supported by multiple witnesses confirming their life stories.” The report concluded that the problems in these cases were unlikely to be isolated but rather were “illustrative of wider problems with the UK’s approach to immigration detention.” In addition to the flawed approach to evidence, the report concluded that “detention powers are being used too readily and without need or legal justification.”
Commenting on the conclusions of the report, JRS UK Director Sarah Teather, said: “This report provides further damning evidence of the Home Office’s excessive use of immigration detention. Far from being a last resort, the use of these punitive and devastating powers has become so automatic that it has been normalised.
“The report also lays bare the consequences of the Home Office’s hermeneutic of suspicion towards migrants and the way it inevitably to unjust immigration decisions. At JRS UK, we witness first-hand how impossible burdens of proof, disregard for evidence, and the arbitrary use of immigration detention ruin the lives of those seeking asylum, as they have the lives of these Windrush era citizens.
“An end to indefinite detention and root and branch reform of the Home Office’s approach to immigration are urgently needed”.
The Committee will conduct a further inquiry into the UK’s immigration detention system, including the lack of a time limit on detention. It intends to do so in Autumn.