Unlocking Detention (unlocked.org.uk) is taking a virtual tour of the UK’s immigration detention centres to shed light on the people detained there – “out of sight, out of mind”.
Today, Unlocking Detention talks to RightsInfo about the tour and how the public can get involved.
Right now, thousands of people are locked up in the UK; not because they committed a crime but to make their removal from the UK quicker and easier for the government. They are locked away, often for months or even years, in prison-style conditions. And, unlike any other country in Europe, the UK still allows ‘immigration detention’ without a time limit.
Immigration detention is an important human rights issue. When someone is locked away for a long time, it has profound effects on their rights to liberty, to family and private life and can sometimes even be a kind of torture, particularly for those who have suffered at the hands of oppressive regimes in the past.
Those campaigning to reform the UK’s immigration detention system have seen a lot of change over the last 24 months. 2015 saw the first-ever cross-party parliamentary inquiry into detention, which demanded fundamental reform of the system. This has been followed by further reviews, the closure of some detention centres, the introduction of a time-limit for keeping pregnant women in detention, and other welcome progress.
However, campaigners argue that – although immigration detention has become more visible – the UK still remains the only country in Europe with indefinite detention and as such there is still work to be done to shine a light onto the harm and long-term damage that indefinite detention can cause.
For the next 10 weeks, you can get involved with the ‘Unlocking Detention’ tour. Unlocking Detention is a ‘virtual tour’ of the UK’s immigration detention estate. Each week, the tour ‘visits’ another of the UK’s detention centres and hears from people who have been detained there (and who still are).
Here’s how you can get involved
1) Contribute questions to live Q and As, taking place each week with someone currently detained in the centre that is the focus of that week. What would you like to ask someone in detention at the moment? Tweet your question (or a photo of your question – see below!) to @DetentionForum. #Unlocked16 will ask your questions and share the response via Twitter.
(2) Each year there is a visual element to the tour that we ask the public to get involved in, to get creative, to get us thinking about detention and those in detention, and to offer a new way of talking about detention. This year, #Unlocked16 are asking people to draw a quick picture (really quick! Like, two minutes! No fine art skills needed! See below for an example) expressing an answer to:
What does detention mean to you?
Find out more on all the great blogs and information on getting involved here. Follow every blog and post on the website, through twitter @DetentionForum and via the hashtag #Unlocked16, on Facebook and Instagram.
For more information:
- Read an opinion piece featured on RightsInfo: Parliament Should Finally Call Time On Indefinite Immigration Detention.
- Learn about a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights on time limits in immigration detention.
- Read our plain English explainer of the Immigration Act 2016.