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In the Press

  • 30th November 2017
    In the Press

    Imagine, if you can, living in a country that imprisons people not suspected of any crime, without the agreement of a judge, and with no release date.

    This is not a dystopian fantasy or the practice of some distant authoritarian state, but the reality of life in the UK for around 30,000 people each year. In 11 immigration removal centres, mostly close to major airports, people are detained as an administrative convenience by our Home Office.

    Ostensibly people are imprisoned as a last resort to facilitate deportation. In other words to ensure that individuals who have failed to convince the Home Office that they have any entitlement to live in the UK do not abscond before they can be sent home. But the reality is rather different. There is no time limit on detention. We are the only country in Europe without one. Some people are imprisoned only for days, but many for months or years – the longest known to me is 9 years. This is quite literally the stuff of madness. Serious mental breakdown is commonplace and mental health deterioration seems to affect all those detained. A significant contributing factor to this is not knowing how long detention will last.
    Not only is this a gross infringement of liberty, it is also costing the taxpayer a lot of money. Over £31,000 a year per person, and yet more than half of those detained for removal from the UK are eventually released back into the community. The Home Office is coy about figures, but it is estimated that approximately £4,000,000 was paid out in 2014/2015 in compensation for unlawful detention.

    The name Immigration Removal Centre sounds harmless enough; just a pragmatic facility for holding people briefly on their way to another place. Don’t be fooled by the name. These places share the most punitive attributes of our prison service with none of the ameliorating facilities for improvement or rehabilitation. They are grim. Detainees are locked in their rooms for 12 hours and are routinely sharing 3 to a room intended for two at most. Lavatories are inside the room with no ventilation and no dividing screen offering privacy.

    This is not about the pros and cons of one immigration policy over another. It is a home grown civil libertarian issue. Detaining people without trial or judicial oversight, without even the suspicion of an offence having been committed, and to do so indefinitely is so profoundly unjust that it beggars belief. Civil liberties are not just the province of the deserving people of Royal Sutton Coldfield, but of the less deserving and the vulnerable too. We all need the protection of the law from abuse of power; it is a principle that should be enshrined in our democracy.

    Many of the detainees affected are asylum seekers who have fled torture. These are extraordinarily vulnerable people and they, like anyone else, should be treated fairly. To be detained with no release date is itself tantamount to torture. The imposition of a time limit of, say, 28 days to enable deportation to take place when it must would begin to put right a wrong that stains our democracy.

    Andrew Mitchell's article on the ConservativeHome website can be found here.

  • 27th November 2017
    In the Press

    The British Army is secretly training Saudi Arabian troops to fight in Yemen, where the country has been accused of committing crimes against humanity. Codenamed Operation Crossways, it was never supposed to be made public but was exposed after photographs were made publicly available on social media.

    Andrew Mitchell said: ‘The UK has been shamefully complicit in Saudi’s role in Yemen, which has clearly included breaches of the Geneva Convention…I have no doubt Parliament will require an explanation of this training mission in view of the high level of concern about the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen.’

    Andrew Mitchell’s article in the Mail Online is available to read here.

  • 16th November 2017
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell MP has urged the Government to push for greater tax haven transparency to help tackle corrupt practices.

    He said: "We have an obligation not least to our own taxpayers to champion transparency and openness and to have zero tolerance towards corruption.

    "The time has come, and this is the third debate that I have taken part in, to insist on the same levels of openness and transparency for the overseas territories as we have in this country.

    "Registers must be open to the media, to journalists, to NGOs and to those people who can join up the dots."

    Philip Hammond pressured to tackle tax avoidance in autumn budget, getSURREY, 16 Nov 2017.

  • 31st October 2017
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell MP has urged the Government to help rescue Andy Tsege, a British father from Islington, held on death row by Ethiopian authorities for more than three years.

    In his article, Mr Mitchell wrote:

    “Inside the front cover of my passport, I am always reassured to read that the UK Government offers me “such assistance and protection as may be necessary” when I leave British shores. But I am reminded by one case in particular that protection is not always guaranteed… we have a duty to speak out. It is time for our Government to negotiate Andy’s return to his family.”

    Andrew Mitchell’s article in the London Evening Standard is available to read here.

  • 25th October 2017
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell MP has personally written to the Home Secretary to urge HM Government to challenge the Kremlin's repeated attempts to order the arrest of Bill Browder, a campaigner against Russian human rights abuses, through Interpol.

    In his letter, Mr Mitchell wrote: “I hope you feel as Home Secretary that it is right and proper that we ensure that Mr Browder is protected from what looks like a clear and egregious breach of his human rights.”

    Andrew Mitchell’s letter to the Home Secretary is available to read here.

    Home Secretary urged to 'protect' British Putin critic targeted by Russia, by Edward Malnick, The Telegraph, 24 October 2017, (£)

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