Medical Justice’s Dr Mary Kamara and Dr Rachel Bingham speak out in the British Medical Journal

“It is important to recognise that immigration detention is inherently harmful to health, and we regard it as part of the “deeply dysfunctional system” that the authors refer to. Well-documented health and mental health risks of immigration detention predate the pandemic (7), but COVID-19 has added an unjustified additional risk to the health of detainees and staff. We hope that this small but vulnerable group of immigration detainees is not overlooked in any future public inquiry, especially in light of the fact that none are serving a criminal sentence – their detention is optional. Most of them cannot be deported due to the global lockdown so the risk to their health, and that of the staff, is entirely avoidable.”

Read the BMJ article in full here.



HM Inspector of Prisons Report – 12th May 2020

Last month HMIP released a report following a series of short scrutiny visits to IRCs across England and highlighted a number of worrying issues.


“12 people had been in detention for over a year and more than a fifth had been detained for over six months. For most, removal during the pandemic appeared a remote possibility given the imposition of travel bans across the world. Many detainees were frustrated at their ongoing detention and there had been some resulting protests. We also found a high percentage of detainees – nearly 40% – identified as being adults at risk in detention, often because they met the criteria for shielding.

… in most centres, some detainees had been granted conditional bail but were not released because of a lack of confirmed suitable accommodation.


Read the report in full here.

The HMIP report was covered by The Independent in this article, with Emma Ginn of Medical Justice and BID’s director Celia Clarke asked to comment.

In response to the report the Home Office said “This report is clear that our response to the coronavirus pandemic within immigration detention has been handled well. It follows on from the High Court, who recently ruled that our approach was sensible, with the appropriate precautionary measures in place.”



Joint-letter on action to prevent BAME deaths

Medical Justice joined Freedom From Torture and 53 other organisations in signing a joint-letter regarding the action to prevent the high number of BAME deaths during this Coronavirus pandemic.

The Home Office must urgently act to protect immigration detainees and asylum seekers who are at higher risk of dying of Covid-19.  We’ve written to Immigration Minister Chris Philp.

Read the letter in full.



277 new COVID-19 cases from within Malaysia’s IRCs

On Thursday the 4th of June, Malaysian COVID-19 cases spiked with a large number coming from within immigration detention centres.

“KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — Malaysia recorded 277 new Covid-19 cases today, of which only four were locals, the Ministry of Health said today.”

Read the article in full here.



BID research : “Risky Business: Immigration Detention decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic”

New research published by Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) which analyses its successful bail cases (95% of cases granted bail since the lockdown began on 20 March) reveals a multitude of failings in the Home Office’s approach to detaining people for immigration purposes during the  COVID-19 pandemic. 

BID examined the reasons given by the Home Office to detain people and to oppose bail during the lockdown, and whether the Home Office’s claim to be primarily detaining “high-harm individuals” was borne out by the facts. BID investigated how the Home Office has approached issues of risk of harm, vulnerability, and imminence of removal when arguing that people should remain in immigration detention.  

Read the report in full here.



Almost 300 migrants put in detention during pandemic

The Home Office put just under 300 new people in immigration detention during the coronavirus pandemic, figures released today suggest. Between the start of the UK lockdown on 23 March and the end of April, 295 people entered immigration detention, according to a new statistical report on Covid-19 and the immigration system. Of these, 231 were “clandestine entrants” held for no more than seven days at short-term holding facilities. On the other hand, the figure does not include transfers from prisons to immigration removal centres.

Read the article in full here.