'Illegal Migration Bill': Prevent the indefinite detention of pregnant women

Campaigners gather outside The Royal Courts of Justice holding placards saying 'Set Her Free'
Simon Tang

The ‘Illegal’ Migration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will prevent women fleeing persecution, gender-based violence, rape, and other torture, who arrive in the UK by ‘irregular’ means (such as small boat) from claiming asylum here. Instead they will be locked up in detention indefinitely, while the Government attempts to remove them to their country of origin or a so-called ‘safe third country’, such as Rwanda.

Women for Refugee Women is particularly concerned about proposals in the Bill to undo the 72-hour time limit on pregnant women’s detention, introduced in 2016. Removing this vital protection will mean pregnant women can be detained indefinitely, risking huge harm to them and their unborn babies.

The House of Lords has just voted resoundingly to preserve the safeguard of the 72-hour time limit. An amendment tabled by Baroness Lister (Labour) and supported by Baroness Sugg (Conservative), Baroness Gohir (Crossbench) and the Bishop of Gloucester has passed with strong cross-party support.

We need to act fast and urge MPs to support this vital amendment once the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Join us to urge your MP to support the amendment, and to stand up against this cruel Bill. All you need to do is fill out your details on the right of this page and you can edit the template letter as you wish.

If you have any questions, please contact Gemma Lousley at gemma@refugeewomen.co.uk.

Remember that:

  • The Bill will undo the 72-hour time limit on pregnant women's detention – a vital safeguard that was introduced by the Government in 2016.

  • Locking up pregnant women indefinitely, without the protection of the time limit, risks huge harm to them and their unborn babies.

  • There is no evidence to back up the Government’s argument that keeping the time limit in place will result in pregnant women being targeted by traffickers to cross the Channel in small boats.

  • Undoing the time limit is opposed by leading medical associations including the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Medical Association.

  • The House of Lords has just voted resoundingly to keep the time limit in place. It is crucial that MPs now show their support for this vital protection.