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UK govt urged to fix detention time for ‘ghost people’

REUTERS | EMMA BATHA
Published : Nov 11, 2016, 6:15 am IST
Updated : Nov 11, 2016, 6:15 am IST

Britain is locking up stateless people for long periods even though there is nowhere they can be deported to, campaigners, lawyers and academics said on Thursday as they called for a strict time limit

Britain is locking up stateless people for long periods even though there is nowhere they can be deported to, campaigners, lawyers and academics said on Thursday as they called for a strict time limit on detention.

Stateless people, sometimes referred to as “legal ghosts”, are not recognised as nationals by any country. As such they are deprived of the basic rights most people take for granted.

European Network on Statelessness (ENS) estimates several hundred stateless people are living in “hidden misery” in Britain. Many were subject to “prolonged and pointless detention” as no country would accept them, said ENS director Chris Nash.

A report on Thursday said Britain was the only EU country without a set time limit on immigration detention and called for the introduction of a 28-day limit.

One Sahrawi man told researchers that he had spent a total of nearly four years locked up, having been detained eight times in 18 years.

Sahrawis originate from the disputed region of Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in 1975.

Figures show 108 stateless people were detained in Britain last year — up from 17 in 2009, the report said. It added the actual number was higher as some stateless people were recorded as being of “unknown nationality” or from countries which did not recognise them.

The Home Office could not comment on individual cases but said no one was held indefinitely.

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