Archbishop Kevin McDonald spent a day with a rabbi and an imam to protest against Britain’s rule on immigration detention.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark joined Rabbi Natan Levy, chairman of the Jewish Social Action Forum, Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum, director of Interfaith through the Arts, and Mia Hasenson-Gross, director of the Jewish human rights group René Cassin, to protest at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Middlesex.
Britain is the only country in the European Union not to have an upper time limit on detention, and the aim of the event on Sunday was to campaign for a maximum time limit of 28 days.
Archbishop McDonald, who resigned as Archbishop of Southwark in 2009 on health grounds, told the gathering: “These vulnerable people, many who have survived war, trauma and persecution, will experience severe distress and further loss of dignity while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed. The people in Harmondsworth may only be 200 metres from us, but in terms of the rights that every human deserves – justice, equality and liberty – they are a million miles away.”
The interfaith gathering, which including testimony from former migrant detainees, concluded with the breaking of the Muslim fast of Ramadan and the Jewish fast of Seventeenth of Tammuz.
There are currently 120,000 refugees living in Britain, and thousands are held in immigration detention centres each year. Under Britain’s Detained Fast Track system, some 2,400 a year were detained in Britain, as of 2012.
Earlier this year a report by Westminster’s all-party parliamentary group on refugees and migration called for a 28-day limit and for “community-based resolutions” rather than detention.
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