20 June 2019
Greens in the European Parliament are using International Refugee Day to call for an end to the detention of asylum seekers and refugees, a camapign led by organisations such as These Walls Must Fall.
In a joint statement, Green Party MEPs stated:
"There have been continuous revelations about the bullying, racism and violence asylum seekers endure in detention centres, such as Brook House near Gatwick Airport.
"It is totally unjustifiable to lock people up indefinitely simply because they do not yet have the correct paperwork. Incarcerating 30,000 people in appalling conditions is shameful and does not reflect the generous spirit of the British people. It’s also a colossal waste of money – that £125 million a year should be spend helping those fleeing war and hardship, rather than harming them.
"Currently some asylum seekers in the UK – those who passed through another safe country before entering the UK – are held indefinitely, a practice which has been deemed unlawful by senior judges.
"Greens in the European Parliament put forward an initiative calling on EU governments to stop criminalising humanitarian assistance to desperate refugees. They have also led calls for a more humane refugee policy across the EU, such as the introduction of ‘humanitarian visas’, though this was voted down by conservative MEPs in the European Parliament.
"On this day, of all days, we condemn the practice of detention of those whose only ‘crime’ is to flee persecution and seek safety."
This sentiment was echoed by Dr Catherine Rowett, the Green Party's MEP for the Eastern Region who said:
"On today of all days, we need to question our habit of thinking of refugees as a “problem”. This country’s greatest achievements have been enhanced by the contribution of high-powered colleagues who’ve arrived here seeking refuge from persecution, conflict or global crisis. Language that alienates and misrepresents those who are actually “people”, and describes them as if they were a threat, corrupts our understanding of what makes a country great."