The United States has raised concerns over the "extended detention of unofficial and failed asylum seekers" in the UK in their latest human rights report. The findings also highlighted other human rights issues, such as stop-and-search practices in Scotland, anti-Semitic vandalism and violence, and an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
The US State Department's annual 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was released on Wednesday (13 April) by Secretary of State John Kerry. Launching the report, Kerry said that every government, including the US, has the ability to improve when it comes to human rights.
The report stated: "During the year the most serious human rights problems [in the UK] were continuing stop-and-search practices in Scotland, female genital mutilation and cutting... Other problems included the erroneous refoulement of Eritrean asylum seekers to their homeland [and] the extended detention of unofficial and failed asylum seekers."
The US State Department recognised that the UK Home Office has the power to detain asylum seekers and unauthorised migrants "who do not enter the asylum system". The 2015 human rights report noted that despite the Home Office policy that "detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary", there is no maximum time limit for immigration detention or an automatic judicial oversight of the decision to detain someone.
However, the US State Department acknowledged that following calls from NGOs to introduce a maximum time limit for detention, the Home Office has begun to review its use of immigration detention and the length of time individuals can be detained.
The report stated: "In July the Home Office announced that more than 100 asylum seekers held in immigration detention centers would be released because of the immediate suspension of the Home Office's fast-track detention system after a court ruled the system unlawful. Their cases were among 800 others under urgent review."
Speaking during the launch of the report, Kerry said: "The norms referred to in this report are universal norms. They are not something that we make up. They're not some arbitrary standard of the United States, which we seek to impose on people. These are universal standards of human rights that have been adopted and accepted and are agreed to by most nations in the world, and even some nations that have agreed to them but violate them."