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Immigration Bill amendment could scrap ‘inhumane’ and ‘cruel’ practice of indefinite detention

THE “inhumane” and “cruel” practice of indefinite detention could be scrapped if MPs vote for an amendment to the Immigration Bill, which returns to the Commons tomorrow. 

Former Tory Cabinet ministers David Davis and Andrew Mitchell are pushing for an amendment to the Bill which aims to introduce a detention time limit of 28 days. 

Under current laws detainees can be held in removal centres indefinitely — a practice that does not exist in any other country in Europe.

The amendment has received cross-party support, including from a number of Conservative MPs. The calls to introduce limits came as new evidence was published at the weekend on the devastating impact of indefinite detention on mental health. 

On Sunday, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), a Catholic organisation that offers support to detainees, found that the arbitrary and indefinite nature of detention “destroys a person’s sense of humanity.”

The report takes in a series of interviews with 27 people who experienced detention, finding that indefinite detention also fosters a “culture of suicide and self-harm.”

JRS UK director Sarah Teather said: “It is clear from those interviewed that being physically detained, as well as the looming threat of detention, irreversibly impact mental and physical wellbeing and cause life-long pain and trauma.”

The third reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill is taking place in the Commons tomorrow. 

MPs and campaigners were also rushing to get support for another amendment to the Bill today which would ensure the continuation of existing arrangements for family reunification in Britain for refugee children.

Those arrangements are due to expire at the end of the Brexit transition period in December, with no replacement yet proposed by ministers.

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