The UK Government urged to take actions against indefinite detention of migrants

The second cycle of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review has prompted four states to express their concerns about the UK’s practice of indefinite detention of migrants.

In the Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, the state representatives from Chile, Honduras, Ecuador and Mexico recommend that the UK Government takes actions against indefinite detention of migrants.  Mexico recommends that the UK should, ‘In line with the British Government commitment to the universality of human rights, prohibit the indefinite detention of migrants, seek alternatives to their detention and ensure that such detention is for the shortest possible duration’.  Argentina, Bangladesh and Paraguay also voiced their concerns on the UK’s current use of detention for immigration control purposes.

Unlike many other EU countries, there is no time limit to immigration detention in the UK.  According to the UK Border Agency’s latest statistics, 414 people have been in detention longer than six months as of 31 December 2012, which represented 17% of the detention population on that day.

The visibility of immigration detention issues in this second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review is a significant shift from the first cycle in 2008, which hardly touched on these issues.  A consorted effort was made for the 2012 cycle by a number NGOs and civil society organisations to raise the profile of these issues. A number of submissions highlighting a wide range of concerns were made last year.  Some of their concerns, including detention of vulnerable people and the Detained Fast Track, are also included in the summary document compiling stakeholders’ submissions.

The UK Government now has an option to accept, partially accept or decline these recommendations.  Their response to these recommendations will be made available in the outcome report which will be adopted by the Human Rights Council in September 2012.

25 June 2012

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