The UK Home Office is set to issue new guidance allowing people held at the country’s immigration removal centers to be thrown into solitary confinement against medical advice.
According to a draft “detention services order,” which spells out guidelines to staff at the immigration prisons on the use of solitary confinement, the detainees will be held for hours in conditions that could be “life threatening.”
“When medical advice is given that locating the detainee in [solitary confinement] would be seriously detrimental to a detainee’s health or is life threatening, the multidisciplinary team should urgently consider this advice,” it said. However, it added the medical advice may then be disregarded as long as a note is made in a booklet “clearly stating the rationale”.
Staff can wait up to two hours before explaining to individuals why they have been detained in such a way. Staff on location can authorize solitary confinement lasting up to two weeks and area managers have to consult if they want to consider longer detainment.
Campaigners described as “cruel” the practice that can also be handed out by guards to anyone who is judged to be “stubborn, unmanageable or disobedient,” according to the draft document called “Removal from Association (DC Rule 40) and Temporary Confinement (DC Rule 42).
“Limitless immigration detention is a dark stain on our country’s human rights record. Adding the cruel practice of solitary confinement to the mix is a grave injustice which risks causing serious harm to innocent and vulnerable individuals,” Sara Ogilvie, policy officer at the campaign group Liberty, told The Independent.
“But instead of abolishing this inhumane system, the Home Office’s latest order would compound the problem by authorizing the segregation of those who are deemed stubborn or suffer mental health problems, even where confinement may be life-threatening.”
Every year, tens of thousands of would-be migrants to Britain are held in prison-style immigration removal centers. While some are destined for deportation, some others are waiting to be removed and a larger number are waiting for their asylum application to be processed or to gain rights to remain in the UK.