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About Jerome Phelps

Jerome Phelps is the Director of Detention Action, where he has worked with migrants in immigration detention since 2003. Detention Action is a national charity that supports people in immigration detention and campaigns for changes to detention policy. Jerome has written or co-written four reports on detention, including Point of No Return: the futile detention of unreturnable migrants (2014). Follow Detention Action on Twitter: @DetentionAction

Articles by Jerome Phelps

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why is so much art about the ‘refugee crisis’ so bad?

Even at a celebrity art gala you can don an emergency blanket and feel good about yourself. Hard political questions, not required.

Arresting the mass detention of migrants: ‘Build trust, not walls’

The pragmatic development of alternatives to detention with civil society at the fore can help to arrest the slide into the abyss of mass detention of migrants in Europe. 

The Fast Track is dead

The systematic detention of asylum seekers in the UK has reached the end of the track.  The Home Office needs to let go, and invest the savings in a fast, high quality asylum process.  

The EU must not leave Greece to solve the migration crisis

Still, the boats come. Detention, as a solution to this, would have to be on a scale hitherto unimaginable in the EU. We need alternatives, and migrants need to be part of them.

After the fast track: what next for the detention of asylum seekers?

UK courts have ruled the routine detention of asylum seekers undergoing accelerated claims to be ‘systemically unfair and unjust’. But faced with hostile politics, how much can strategic litigation deliver?

Interrupting the implacable: fighting the Detained Fast Track

The UK Court of Appeal will hear an appeal this week over the lawfulness of automatically detaining asylum seekers while their appeals are heard. The era of expansion of this practice is already over and further change is likely. 

A crisis of harm in immigration detention

A young Guinean woman has become the sixth victim in three years of ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ in UK immigration detention, with the High Court ruling that detention explicitly caused the disintegration of her mental health.

The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga

The man shouting for help was a deportee, a figure hopelessly removed from the mundane normality of international flight. An unbridgeable gulf separated him from the passengers sitting in front of him and across the aisle. Jimmy Mubenga's role was to be a non-person, to disappear from the UK and be forgotten

Is there an alternative to locking up migrants in the UK?

If detention is a tool of war on irregular migration, then the damage on both sides is severe. But this war is not inevitable. There is a significant area of potential common interest in a fair system that works primarily by consent

Fast track to despair

In the UK, people lose their liberty simply for claiming asylum. On the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, which enshrined the right to seek protection from persecution, it is worth reminding ourselves of how far we have fallen from those aspirations.

"A lifer is better than a detainee"

Immigration detention is a clear example of the gap between toughness and effectiveness. It's not too late for the coalition government to take on the extremely expensive pain of the wholesale detention of migrants

No release: lives in limbo

The UK is almost alone in Europe in detaining migrants indefinitely. The cost to the taxpayer does not come cheap. The costs to detainees are incalculable. But in the long term, the most serious damage may be to the British tradition of defending civil liberties from arbitrary state power.
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