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Life Seekers Aid (LSA) is deeply troubled by reports it is receiving from asylum seekers who have been detained by the Home Office since the passing into law of the Safety of Rwanda Act last week.

Reports from multiple detainees show that the Home Office has adopted the following concerning practices:
  • Forcibly detaining bailed asylum seekers without allowing them to collect key documents relating to their immigration case. Asylum seekers are effectively abducted from their bail addresses or from the office/police station where they register fortnightly in compliance with the conditions of their bail. It appears this happens without notice sometimes two years after the detainee has been bailed.
  • Confiscating detainees’ mobile phones without affording detainees a chance to notify their loved ones of their detention or to write down the numbers of important contacts such as their immigration solicitor, if they have one. Detainees routinely do not know the name of the individual or firm who has been representing them, so they are back to ‘square one’ trying to seek representation with the help of charities such as LSA.
  • Failing to connect detainees to charities offering support or other routes to seek legal advice: LSA is dependent on our details being circulated via ‘word of mouth’ within detention centres and already the phone is ringing off the hook with people who have been forcibly detained with no notice this week. Detainees are ‘equipped’ with a cheap phone with a few pounds of credit — enough for one or two short calls out — this is insufficient to allow them to notify their families of their whereabouts, seek legal representation and access other support they need.
  • Failing to provide sufficient administrative facilities (computers, printers) within detention centres, such that detainees report having to queue for hours to leave their document with staff to be emailed out the next day. This is delaying signed consent forms reaching us in time to connect them with immigration lawyers. When paperwork comes through, it is often illegible, having been poorly printed or scanned.
It seems clear that all of these practices will build in delay so that detainees have little hope of meeting the tight timetable set by the Home Office, which requires representations to be made within seven days of a detainee receiving a ‘letter of intent.’

In addition, it seems that basic rights in detention are not being upheld. Detainees report lengthy delays obtaining medical care in detention at a time when their mental and physical health are both under immense pressure. LSA is very concerned for the wellbeing of detainees faced with the anxiety-inducing prospect of imminent deportation to Rwanda without recourse to legal advice. There also appears to be a systemic failure to inform detainees of their legal rights including their right to ask for bail.

LSA is concerned that the Home Office appears to have timed this deluge of arrests to coincide with the local elections and the Early May Bank Holiday weekend in order to avoid media coverage and legal scrutiny of these inhumane practices.

We are in urgent need of funds to meet the needs of those in detention. Anyone who wishes to get involved with fundraising, supporting detainees or interpreting (especially Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish) should please contact

Life Seekers Aid, 5 May 2024