The Solidarity Party*: Policy announcement in response to the #HungerForFreedom protests in Yarl’s Wood.
The Solidarity Party’s only stated policy so far has been to advocate for time-limit on detention. In response to the demonstrator’s demands, the Solidarity Party would like to make the following policy announcements to show practical ways governments and opposition parties could immediately act to grant their reasonable proposals
- We want an end to indefinite detention and a return to the original plan of the 28-day limit.
The Solidarity party would impose an immediate time limit of, at most, 28 days. Any time limit would only be meaningful if it applies to all people in immigration detention and there were substantial protections against re-detention – living in the community with the fear of imminent detention is not humane.
- We want the Home Office to respect Article 8.
The Solidarity party would repeal the UK Borders Act 2007 which introduced automatic deportation orders and the sections of the Immigration Act 2014 and parts of the Immigration Rules that narrowed the interpretation of Article 8 in settlement and deportation cases, particularly for people with immigration or criminal offences.
- We want the Home office to respect the European Convention of Human Rights regarding refugees and asylum seekers.
The Solidarity Party notes that there were 6 deaths in Immigration detention in 2017 alone and that the conditions in detention have been found to be in breach of Article 3 on a further 6 occasions. For this reason, among others, a time limit is insufficient, and the Solidarity Party will be looking to take measures to end all immigration detention. It would also enable people in detention to have access to camera phones, and the internet and so they were equipped to document abuses against them.
- We want the Home Office to respect due process and stop deporting people before their cases are decided or appeals are heard.
The Solidarity party would immediately repeal legislation enabling people to be deported before the final outcome of all possible cases. It would substantially change the institutional culture at the Home Office from one in which caseworkers were incentivised to remove people to one in which they were required to ensure that people have access to the residence rights they deserve.
- We want due processes before we are imprisoned on immigration matters.
The conditions are akin to imprisonment, yet there are none of the safe guards. The Solidarity Party would ensure any detention of migrants has to be before a judge and that the strong presumption against detention, that already exists on paper, exists in reality.
- We want a fair bail process and the Home Office to end the process of selective evidence disclosure to the immigration tribunal courts and instead disclosure of all evidence to ensure a fair judgement is reached.
In judicial proceedings regarding detention prior to and after detention, judges should have access to all information that the Home Office has.
- We want adequate healthcare and especially the mental health nurse to stop operating as an extension of the Home Office asking people such questions as, “did you know you were going to stay in the UK when you entered?”
Healthcare in detention is of substandard quality and adequate protection of health cannot be managed in detention which is in itself damaging to detainee’s mental and physical health. The Solidarity Party would respond by developing a system in which drastically fewer people were detained. It would also repeal any legislation connected to the Hostile Environment programme that prevents access to vital services to people who live in fear of border enforcement.
- We want the Home Office to stop detaining the vulnerable people, that is victims of rape, that is torture, all forms of torture, trafficking, forced labour, the disabled, the mentally ill and so on.
The Solidarity party will ensure that no one with vulnerabilities are in immigration detention and that the state cannot justify the detention of such people based on ‘immigration factors’ as stated in the current Adults at Risk policy. It also recognises that detention renders people vulnerable and that the only way to stop the detention of the vulnerable is the end detention itself.
- We want amnesty for all people who have lived in the UK for more than 10 years and an end to the exiling of those who came as children and are culturally British.
The Solidarity Party would grant an immediate amnesty for people living in the UK for more than 10 years. We would seriously challenge the notion that it is in the national interest for the state to be actively interested in detaining, deporting and pressuring people into ‘voluntary returns’.
- We want an end to the Home Office’s of employing detainees to do menial work for £1 per hour, it prays on the vulnerable and forces them to participate in their own detention.
The Solidarity Party recognises the absurdity of a system which prevents people from working in the community but exploits their labour for £1 per hour when they have been detained. Any work undertaken in the managing and dismantling of the detention estate will receive a living wage.
- We want an end to charter flights and the snatching of people from their beds in the night and herding them like animals.
Charter Flights are the result of concerted efforts to deport people of specific nationalities; they are a legacy of colonial relations with states such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Jamaica. They prevent people accessing their rights because of the lack of legal and casework resources. The Solidarity Party would end charter flights immediately and ensure that everyone was able to access legal resources and legal aid to effectively obtain their rights.
The Solidarity Party demands that other parties accept similar extensive and reasonable proposals and join us in re-imagining the state against racism and against the violent and continuing legacies of colonialism.
These policies proposals have been formulated by a well-meaning policy officer but it would need to undergo significant and meaningful consultation with those who made the demands and those most affected by immigration policies to see whether the measures go far enough.
*The Solidarity Party are a fictional party fabricated to think about out how a progressive state might respond to the injustices of detention and deportation. It is more of an experiment in thinking about what the state’s policies might be and how parties might respond to the protest and demands of those socially excluded.