Freed Voices: Kasonga

“I was detained in prison under immigration powers, and then in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook IRCs, for over two years altogether.

“The ‘IRC’ stands for ‘Immigration Removal Centre’. ‘Removal’ is the key word here. From the very first day I was detained pending deportation, I knew I could not be returned because of Home Office Country Guidance. I asked my solicitor, the courts, and the Home Office the same question: ‘Why are you locking me up when you yourself acknowledge you cannot deport me?’ The answer was always the same: ‘You cannot be released because of the risk that you re-offend.’

“Immigration is immigration. Asylum is asylum. A criminal court is a criminal court. They are three separate things. In this country, however, the Government is very happy to confuse them all. Once you’ve served your sentence, you’ve paid your debt to society. You should be freed. But migrants with convictions to their name serve double sentences. Although, this is detention and this is the UK, so no time limit means it is actually more of a life sentence.

“The sense of injustice swells inside of me when I think about it. I felt like the specifics of my case were completely ignored – my long-term detention came down to the fact I was a foreigner, little else. My experience in detention broke the trust I had in the Government, and the country I have lived in for the last twenty years.”

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