A report released by the UKBA yesterday into immigration detention vindicates the concerns raised by the Refugee Council and other agencies into the welfare of people who should not be held in detention because of the risks to their health and wellbeing.
Rule 35 is an essential safeguard to ensure that people are not detained if they have been tortured, or are unfit to be detained on medical grounds. Refugee agencies pressed the UKBA to carry out an audit when it became clear these procedures were not working as they should be.
A year later, the results have been published and the Refugee Council is pleased the UKBA has acknowledged failures of basic procedures, a lack of accountability, inadequacies of training and a lack of monitoring. They have also stated a “robust action plan has been developed” to combat these issues.
The Refugee Council is concerned, however, that the report fails to address why decisions are made to continue detaining 91% of cases referred. There is no mention in the report of the reasons why detention was considered appropriate in the overwhelming majority of cases. It is therefore an audit of the procedures involved rather than the quality of the decisions made.
Donna Covey, the Refugee Council Chief Executive said:
“We welcome this long-awaited report, which confirms the concerns we have previously raised about the welfare of vulnerable people in detention. It is unacceptable that people who are unfit to be detained under Rule 35, including victims of torture, are still not being treated in the appropriate way.
“As a result, we hope the UKBA will now implement their action plan to improve procedures for protecting people who should not be detained as a matter of urgency. We are pleased that there is a commitment to further audits and urge UKBA to also look into the decisions to detain people so that the future wellbeing of this vulnerable group is better protected. Generally, we would strongly urge the UKBA to question its use of detention as part of the asylum process and that they use it only as a matter of last resort and in a lawful manner.”