By John Waters
A Catholic Bishop in England has joined many other faith leaders in calling for a change in the law regarding the detention of immigrants arriving in the United Kingdom. Under the present law, immigrants entering the UK can be held at a detention centre for an indefinite period of time. The detention of immigrants entering the UK has been a controversial issue for a number of years but has gained renewed public attention following the result of the 2016 “Brexit” referendum.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, auxiliary Bishop of Westminster issued a statement on 16 February, saying “It has been demonstrated time and time again that indefinite immigration detention not only violates people's basic human dignity, but that it serves no meaningful purpose.
It is shameful that we lag behind every other EU country in abolishing this practice and I sincerely hope that the Government will commit to introducing a more humane system at the earliest opportunity”
Bishop McAleenan’s statement joins those made by leaders from the Church of England, Unitarian and Free Church movements, Reform Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and the Jesuit Refugee Service. They are each quoted by the Human Rights organisation “Liberty” which runs a number of campaigns concerning both Human rights and Civil Liberties in the UK.
Groups such as the British Medical Association and Amnesty International have raised concerns about the physical and mental well-being of those being detained. Liberty is calling for a 28-day detention limit to be included in the new law being drafted in the UK parliament, which will establish the detention laws for after the UK leaves the European Union.