Greens continue pressure to end scandal of refugee incarceration

30 June 2018

Work by Greens including MP Caroline Lucas has upped the pressure on the Government to review the inhumane indefinite detention of women at Immigration Removal Centres such as Yarl's Wood, where many survivors of torture are kept against Government's own guidelines. 

Lucas described being "in an incredible state of shock" in a video filmed directly after her visit to the centre in June 2018, saying "Yarl’s Wood should close."


In particular, the then Green Party Co-Leader highlighted the fact that the UK is "the only country in Europe that has indefinite detention.

"What’s going on there is nothing short of psychological torture. These people, often not even knowing why they’ve been picked up, certainly not knowing how long they’re going to be there.

"There is so much misery, so much despair, so much hopelessness.

“People who have lived in the UK for years and years and have family here, who have been based here, lived their lives here perfectly legally, suddenly being picked up and deposited in Yarl’s Wood.

“We’ve seen all of the chaos surrounding the Windrush scandal, and to my mind there’s another scandal unfolding right here inside Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.”

In the first visit of its kind, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott visited the site in 2018, with pressure from Greens and other campaigners moving the issue into other Party's agenda. 

Hundreds of complaints about sexual abuse and mistreatment have been raised by Yarl's Wood detainees over the last decade. A 2017 report highlighted continuing concerns about the number of women who are held only to be later released, the length of stays at the centre, lack of access to appropriate medical care, and that increasingly numbers of vulnerable women are being held despite seeking asylum due to torture. 

While the Green Party maintains its commitment to an end to immigration detention, in the short term, the Green Party are calling for the release of women who have experienced sexual violence so that their claim can be processed in the community, and an end to indefinite detention. To mark International Women's Day 2018, Caroline Lucas was one of a number of signatories calling for:

•An end to indefinite detention and a return to the original plan of the 28-day limit.

•The Home Office to respect Article 8.

•The Home Office to respect the European Convention of Human Rights regarding refugees and asylum seekers.

•The Home Office to respect due process and stop deporting people before their cases are decided or appeals are heard.

•Due processes before we are imprisoned on immigration matters.

•Fair bail process and the Home Office to end the process of selective evidence disclosure to the immigration tribunal courts and instead disclosure of all evidence to ensure a fair judgement is reached.

•Adequate healthcare and especially the mental health nurse to stop operating as an extension of the Home Office asking people such questions as, 'Did you know you were going to stay in the UK when you entered?'

•The Home Office to stop detaining the vulnerable people: victims of rape, all forms of torture, trafficking, forced labour, the disabled, the mentally ill and so on.


•Amnesty for all people who have lived in the UK for more than 10 years and an end to the exiling of those who came as children and are culturally British.

•An end to the Home Office's practice of employing detainees to do menial work for £1 per hour; it preys on the vulnerable and forces them to participate in their own detention.

•An end to charter flights and the snatching of people from their beds in the night and herding them like animals.

The Federation of European Young Greens released a video advising members of the public what to do if they are concerned a forced removal is happening on their flight (please be aware that refusing to sit may lead you to be disembarked & in some circumstances affect your long-term ability to travel). 

Our latest campaign news

On International Women's Day 2018

1. Close Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre As women continue their hunger strike, Deputy Leader Amelia Womack was at the Home Office with protesters in solidarity.

2. Allow MPs to job-share Former Women’s Equality Spokesperson Sarah Cope and GPW Secretary Clare Lorraine Phipps were on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour talking about the campaign to increase diversity in our Parliament by allowing MPs to job-share.
Clare and Sarah at the BBC

3.Make misogyny a thing of the past Green Party Women are asking anyone who has worked in the third sector (now or in the past) to consider completing the Charityworks 'Sexism In The Third Sector' Survey on sexism and harassment. The research will help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of the sector, while ensuring it is open and safe for all people. Hear Green Party Women Membership Secretary RoseMary Warrington with others at the Home Office hand in of our petition to Make Misogyny a hate crime below.

4. Safeguarding reproductive rights Green Party Women are an official supporter of BPAS' 'Back Off' campaign. If you have been affected, in any way, by anti-abortion activity outside a clinic and would like to contribute to a survey of experiences you can do so here

5.Celebrating 100 years since the UK’s first women voted While Caroline Lucas MP popped into a very special broom cupboard, Amelia and Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley MP, as well as Molly Scott Cato MEP and former Leader Natalie Bennett went #HungryforDemocracy. We also remembered those women who didn’t gain equal voting rights until a decade later, as well as the women of colour, disabled and queer women whose achievements in gaining women’s suffrage have been underappreciated.

Caroline in Emily Wilding Davison Broom Cupboard