Over the past few months, I've made several posts about the plight of Thomas Yadegary, imprisoned without trial for over two years because he refuses to cooperate in his own deportation back to persecution and possibly death in Iran. Like many, I am appalled that we can continue to hold a man in jail for over two years without trial. But what's more appalling is that Thomas Yadegary isn't the only person held in this fashion, nor has he been held the longest.
According to information released under the OIA, as of 17th October six people have been held without trial in immigration detention for more than 300 days. Two, including Yadegary, have been held more more than 700 days, and the longest has been held for almost a thousand:
|Date taken into custody||Days in custody (as at Oct 17 2006)|
If these people are still being detained - and we just don't know - then this would mean that as of today, all had been imprisoned for more than a year, two for more than two years, and the longest-serving detainee is now coming up for their third anniversary in prison. All of this, remember, without any charge or any trial.
Apart from Yadegary, we have no idea who any of these people are, or the circumstances of their detention. The whole process happens in secret, unless someone is lucky enough to have their case highlighted and publicised.
You can think what you like about immigration and the need for deportation, but this sort of indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial goes against our deepest values. It is the sort of thing practiced by absolute monarchs, third-world despots, or the Americans in their Caribbean gulag in Guantanamo. People are being given effectively open-ended sentences, without having committed any crime. And that is simply wrong.