Images courtesy of Lisa Matthews
This year’s Unlocking Detention featured over 40 blogs. Massive thank you to everyone who contributed and shone a light on the reality of immigration detention! As we conclude this year’s tour, some of the volunteers running the project share blogs that have left special impression on their minds. If there was any blog that especially resonated with you, do let us know which one and also why.
“Unlocking Detention is important because it aimed at publicising something that is done in your name and paid for by public money. Yet, not much is known about it, except the odd news report here and there when a death occurred in an immigration centre, or when abuse is uncovered. There isn’t much scrutiny or accountability and high regard for due process. If more people knew what was going on, more would recoil in disgust and demand explanations.
The UK’s immigration detention system is a mess, it is a failing and cruel system that has no place in a functioning democracy. Time after time, reports show that things are done in a way that has no bearing on any logic whatsoever, let alone humanity. Even if you look at it from a strictly cold administrative angle: it is pointless (53% are released into the community) and it is costly (£92m+ per year).
The blog post that resonated the most with me was Won’t Somebody Please Think of The Children? Detention is destructive, for the individual in detention as well as the wider community. It has deep impacts on the immediate family too which usually takes the brunt of that disruption. One has to ask: How can a government stand there and defend such cruelty?
Long-term effects on separation at an early age are well documented, it is therefore truly disturbing that it is essentially an official policy to enable a system that sees parents and children regularly forced to live miles apart with no time limit.”
“I’ve chosen Juan’s poem about the closure of the Verne – it has really stuck with me, and I think it captures quite a few of the themes that we have seen throughout Unlocking Detention.
The poem vividly shows the hopelessness and harm caused by indefinite detention – for example, Juan says “The Verne is a cemetery for hope. I don’t see how I would survive a fourth time in detention”. It also shows how being detained impacts people long, long after they are released: he says, “When you have experienced detention, you walk every day with the experience on your back” and “I am different person now.”
The poem demonstrates the need for system-wide reform – not just tweaking the system, or closing one or two centres, but fundamental change to the whole system. Juan says, “I am pleased to hear that the Verne is closing. But for those of us that have already experienced it, it will always be open.” He also highlights how many people have died in detention this year, and says, “just thinking about the Verne makes me think of death”. As Kasonga from Freed Voices said in Parliament in November, “Detention reform cannot wait. It has become an emergency situation.”
Finally, this poem is yet another example of experts-by-experience as the most important, powerful advocates for detention reform. We’ve seen this in the many fantastic blogs by experts-by-experience during #Unlocked17, and at the parliamentary meeting, when Kasonga gave a brilliant speech and members of the audience spoke out about their own experiences – one woman described detention centres as like “filing cabinets for human beings”. MPs were clearly very moved and reiterated their commitment to fight for reform.”
Let us know if there was any blog this year that resonated strongly with you! We would love to hear from you!