These people do outstanding work on immigration detention

We, Freed Voices, go into 2020 determined to stand up for people in detention. We know we are not alone.

2019 has almost come to an end, and we’re looking ahead to the immense challenges of 2020.

Indefinite immigration detention still exists in the UK on a scale that is almost unfathomable – around 24,000 people locked up this year for the second year running.

We, Freed Voices, go into 2020 determined to stand up for people in detention, and ready, as always, to challenge the unjust and inhumane practices that put them there. We do this not as ‘former detainees’ or as ‘case studies’, but as experts-by-experience.

We know we are not alone. We would like to take this opportunity to recognise and thank those who have done, and continue to do, outstanding work on immigration detention.

In no particular order:

An open letter to General Election candidates about inhumane migrant detention

from Freed Voices

We are Freed Voices, a group of experts-by-experience committed to speaking out about the realities of immigration detention in the UK and calling for reform.

At a recent meeting of our group, we added up the number of years we spent between us in immigration detention in this country. With just a handful of us in the room, the total was more than 13 years. If all our members had been there, it would have been more than 25 years.

Many of us suffered greatly during our detention. We suffered serious mental health problems. We saw and experienced suicide attempts and self-harm. We felt the immensely detrimental impact of indefinite detention on our minds and bodies. Our members are still suffering from the trauma of detention, even many years later. One of our members said recently, “you leave detention, but detention does not leave you.”

I cannot understand why you are here

by Mr. Njoku, Freed Voices

I was held in immigration detention for 18 months before I was released.

During my time in detention, one of the detention officers told me, “Mr. Njoku, every officer here has good comments about you and I cannot understand why you are here in the first place. I can see that you have major health conditions. I just do not see any justification for why you are being locked up here indefinitely”.

Now, I am outside and I can bring my story to you – I want to make sure people know about the reality of immigration detention and inspire those who agree it is wrong to help end it.

Fireflies in pitch-black nights

By Mishka, Freed Voices

The sense of hopelessness, isolation, sadness and fear are just a few of the emotions that overshadow the minds of people in indefinite immigration detention. This is a place where you feel you are forgotten – that you are very much deliberately kept out of sight and out of mind. The injustice you face makes you feel like the whole world is against you.

I remember when I was held in Harmondsworth – next to Heathrow Airport, now part of the biggest immigration detention centre in Europe. I could give you a list of gloomy things about that experience, but there were a couple of good memories and reasons to be hopeful.

I was held in indefinite detention. If human rights mean anything, this must end

by Michael Darko, Freed Voices

Last year I gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. I told them that I left my county of birth at the age of four, and arrived in the UK aged 12. I told them that I dropped out of school to look after my siblings after our father left us. I told them about how I was denied the documents to work in the only country I knew as home, so I began working using someone else’s ID to get employment.