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.

One of my fellow Freed Voices members told me that “indefinite detention is a mental torture. After a while your brain begins to melt”. I know this to be true.

One day after I was released from detention I found myself walking into a mortuary in Liverpool. I didn’t even realise until someone stopped me and asked what I was doing.

This is the impact detention had on me. I had lost my mind at the hands of the Home Office.

Now, let me tell you a few facts about the UK’s immigration detention system.

About 24,000 people are held in immigration detention centres every year in this country. This is detention on a mass scale. People like me are sent to detention centres by someone who works at the Home Office, but there’s no judge or court to say whether that should be allowed. The Home Office gets it wrong so often that most people are released eventually – their detention served no purpose.

The most controversial part of detention in the UK is that there is no limit on how long the Home Office can keep us there. So many people are held for a long time, never knowing when they will get out. This is the mental torture.

I never imagined something like this could exist in this country. I learned about it the hard way and now I’m determined to keep fighting until we all see this injustice stop for the good.

I want to encourage everyone to join this fight.

Thank you.