1st February 2021 – 31st January 2022
“I am really excited and honoured to have been appointed vice chair of Medical Justice and to be a part of this great team that is literally saving and transforming lives in immigration detention. I look forward to using my skills and experience to increase the visibility of the great work we do and to offer strategic direction that reflects the needs of our detained clients.
I commend Medical Justice for having the foresight and vision to include people with lived experiences in their board of trustees, as I believe this is vital to the success, relevance and sustainability of Medical Justice. As a beneficiary of this policy, it has been great to use my lived experience of detention.”
Bridget Banda – Vice-Chair
Some topics covered in this annual report ;
- Acting as a Core Participant in the Brook House Inquiry – The Inquiry’s clinical expert accepted a causal link between the failure to identify and release highly vulnerable individuals leading to their mistreatment.
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group’s inquiry into quasi-detention – “What we have heard so far is incredibly worrying. None of this cruelty is happening by accident.” Alison Thewliss MP, APPG chair
- Campaigning against the 9 planned Accommodation Centres for 8,000 asylum seekers
- In spring 2021 we worked with a number of people who were not detained but nevertheless being held at Tinsley House, usually an Immigration Removal Centre. Clare Jennings of Matthew Gold & Co. Solicitors ; “They felt like they were in prison because that’s exactly where they were”.
- There was a sudden sharp increase in referrals from May 2021 onwards as the Home Office started detaining large numbers of people who arrived in the UK by small boats. The majority were Vietnamese nationals. Many reported histories of trafficking over several months spanning many countries, only interrupted by being intercepted by Border Force while crossing the channel. Of 60 Vietnamese clients, 56 had eventually been released – but, to our great concern, 55 then disappeared, feared re-trafficked, including an age disputed young person, who reported being 15 years old.
- During the summer of 2021 charter flight operations increased and we saw many people detained for mass deportations on charter flights to countries including Vietnam, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. They included people with serious health problems and many who had lived in the UK for several decades.
- People detained in prisons under immigration powers (including torture survivors and those with serious vulnerabilities) were locked in their cells for over 22 hours a day, with people sometimes being held in their cells for days at a time. Some self-harmed, attempted suicide and had difficulty sleeping or eating. Some who did not have any previous mental health problems eventually left detention with a mental illness. The government suggests that the use of solitary confinement is a public health response to COVID-19. However, this cannot be justified; prolonged solitary confinement is a practice that has been prohibited internationally by the UN’s ‘Mandela Rules’.
We know the Medical Justice model works; assisting individuals and using our medical evidence to secure systemic change. Tens of thousands of people subject to immigration control have benefitted from our policy work and litigation. Meanwhile, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Detention, for which Medical Justice provides the secretariat, engages with non-governmental organisations and others with personal experience and expertise, amplifying our collective impact. Medical Justice is increasingly being a force for good way beyond its own direct client base.
An independent evaluation in 2021 noted: those who know Medical Justice “feel it has strong characteristics and a highly respected reputation. It is regarded as principled, expert and evidence- based, tenacious in its casework and policy work, fierce and ferocious when needed and brave in the way it speaks truth to power.”
Thank you to our incredible staff, our volunteers, our funders, our partner organisations, and to our inspirational and brave clients.