1st February 2022 – 31st January 2023
See the 2022-23 Medical Justice Annual Report for more about what we do to secure lasting change, including:
Rwanda Scheme – We handled 511 referrals for detained clients, half of them self-referrals. 51 of these people were targeted for deportation to Rwanda. Our advocacy work challenging the Rwanda scheme included:
- We submitted 2 witness statements for Asylum Aid’s legal challenge of the Rwanda scheme.
- Our report “Who’s Paying the Price? The Human Cost of the Rwanda Scheme”, based on 36 clients, showing that 26 had indicators of torture histories and 17 of trafficking, 15 had complex mental ill-health, 11 had suicidal thoughts.
- We organised an All-Party Parliamentary Group briefing session with UNHCR, Medical Justice and Asylum Aid.
- We provided oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee and submissions to other parliamentary committees.
- We helped galvanise medical organisations – British Medical Association said “It would be difficult to exaggerate the mental health impacts of transferring migrants to Rwanda.”
Brook House Inquiry (BHI) video footage revealed how normalised the infliction of pain was, the suffering and humiliation of detained people by immigration removal centre (IRC) guards who showed an underlying lack of any empathy, even when people were at their most vulnerable, even in life-threatening situations.
- Medical Justice acted as a Core Participantin the Brook House Inquiry. Our submissions were pivotal, demonstrating the causal link between clinical safeguard failures and the widespread abuse being investigated.
- Our “Harmed Not Heard” report, submitted to BHI, evidenced such failures are ongoing across all IRCs, underlining the urgency, given mass incarceration of asylum seekers called for by the Illegal Immigration Act.
- 87% of the clients the report was based on had suicidal and/or self-harm thoughts recorded by a Medical Justice clinician at their assessment – all were deprived of a safeguarding report identifying their risk of suicide.
Scaling up – With a generous grant from This Day Foundation via an intermediary, we were able expand our clinical team with with an infectious disease registrar, two experienced GPs and a psychiatrist, lead to more medical assessments and detention visits, more volunteer sign-ups and more clinicians being trained to assess vulnerable people in detention.
At Manston there was chronic overcrowding, thousands of detained people sleeping in cold, wet tents, toilets overflowing with excrement, outbreaks of infectious diseases, death, people forcibly restrained after asking for food. We challenged new legislation allowing safeguards and standards at sites designated as “residential Holding Rooms” like Manston to be dramatically downgraded, whilst quadrupling the length of time that people can be detained there.
The scale of all this rampant cruelty can feel overwhelming, though it also underlines why the small but mighty Medical Justice is needed more than ever. We will endeavour to reach as many people in detention and quasi-detention as possible, and no doubt our medical evidence will be at the heart of litigation and advocacy work challenging the odious new policies.
We hear daily from the people we work with about the abuse and brutality inherent in immigration detention and the impact it has. We have also seen incredible kindness and courage in the face of the daily hostility of the immigration system with people in detention supporting one another and speaking out about their experiences.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has been part of the work this year to oppose detention and to support the people subjected to it.
“I would have died. I was on suicide watch. I wanted to die. If Medical Justice wasn’t there, I would have been in the ground today” – Former client