Refugee Council response to the Conservative proposals to detain all asylum seekers until they have a decision from the Home Office

18 May 2001

Refugee Council release

Nick Hardwick, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

"We have always maintained that locking up all asylum seekers, including women and children, is inhumane and goes against natural justice. They have not committed any crime and many have fled torture, arbitrary imprisonment and have witnessed terrible atrocities.

"Let's be clear that these proposed so-called 'reception centres' are detention centres from which people cannot leave. We would be facing the possibility of people having their liberty taken away for months or even years when they have not committed a crime. No other European country is detaining all asylum seekers for indefinite periods of time or planning to do so.

"On average it takes 14 months for an asylum seeker to get an initial decision from the Home Office and the Conservatives have made no proposals on how they would speed up the decision-making process. This would result in asylum seekers being locked up for months if not years, the cost of which would be astronomical.

"The question is how many detention spaces will be needed and at what cost?"