Fast track to despair

June 29, 2011 — Review

Written by Ryan Erfani-Ghettani

Detention Action has published new research examining the detention of male asylum seekers at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre and the injustices of the ‘outdated’ detained fast track system.

The report, Fast Track to Despair: the unnecessary detention of asylum seekers, examines the gap between the conditions of the asylum system when it was established in 2003 and conditions today. The report uses a combination of testimony, interview, and data analysis to back up its findings that the significant reduction in asylum claims has rendered it outdated and ill-suited to the current situation.

According to Detention Action, fast tracking is ‘structured to the maximum disadvantage of asylum seekers at every stage.’ They are held in maximum-security jail conditions, many of them confused by a shambolic system. The combination of such detention and the ‘breakneck speed’ at which they are forced through the legal process prevents them from properly engaging with their own conditions. Many asylum seekers have minimal time with their legal representatives and 99 per cent of asylum claims are refused.

The basic parameters of the system are unjust from the start. They pre-judge asylum cases as ‘straightforward’ before the claim has even been processed. The relevant information to make such a judgement is often unknown. The judgement condemns the asylum seeker to a legal process that is impossible to navigate; it is effectively a sentence before a trial.

Fast Track to Despair clarifies the paradox of the asylum seeker caught in the detained fast track system. The pre-trial labelling of cases leaves the claimant with an impossible task, a task designed to be impossible. The findings suggest that Detained Fast Track is less a way of processing asylum claims than a way of ensuring that asylum seekers are deported. The report recommends that the system be abolished because ‘it is unnecessary, unfair and dysfunctional.’

Related links

Detention Action

Fast Track to Despair: the unnecessary detention of asylum seekers, by Detention Action, can be downloaded here (pdf file, 6.10mb).

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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