Immigration detention of children must end
The Coalition Agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats published in May 2010 stated: We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
This was a very welcome and important policy statement – the immigration detention of children is unfair, unjustifiable and harmful to many of the children who are detained.
It is concerning, therefore, to see the Guardian reporting on 8th November (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/08/detention-children-immigration-removal-centres) that the deadline for ending the immigration detention of children has been put back again. Damian Green, Immigration Minister, had promised that it would be ended by December, but the Home Office have now confirmed that immigration detention of children will continue until March, at least.
Every time this policy is delayed, even by a few months, it has a serious impact on the children affected. Helle has already posted on this blog the details of a breifing paper from the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the UK Faculty of Public Health: https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=6638
Medical Justice, a charity which works to challenge inadequate healthcare provision for immigration detainees released a report entitled 'State Sponsored Cruelty': Children in immigration detention on 9th Septemver 2010. The report features 141 cases and found that 74 children were psychologically harmed, 92 had physcial health problems which were exacerbated or caused by detention (50 of whom were reported to have received inadequate healthcare in detention) and 48 were reported to have witnessed violence, mostly during attempts to remove them from the UK. The full 'State Sponsored Cruelty': Children in immigration detention report can be found here: http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/content/view/1420/89/
Nick Clegg himself described the immigration detention of children as 'state sponsored cruelty' – now we must ensure that he and the rest of the Coalition Government keep their promise to end the immigration detention of children. This policy must not be continually delayed, or forgotten amidst the cuts – there are vulnerable children who deserve better treatment and protection for their rights, and we must ensure that they get it.
More information can be found on the Outcry campaign webpages.
Clare Sambrook has also written a number of articles on this issue, and recently won the Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize for her work in this area:
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