Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coalition’s claims of success in their mid term review are not all good news for asylum seekers

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The Coalition Government announced two successes with it’s management of the asylum system in the mid term review last week, that they had ended child detention and have ‘worked through the legacy asylum cases and are resolving asylum cases more quickly’. Sadly, those of us working with asylum seekers know that these important changes are still some way off.

It is clear that there are still huge failings in the way in which asylum legacy cases are managed, as we wrote here. Moreover children seeking refugee protection in the UK are still detained.


Cedars

Cedars Centre was opened by this Government in 2011 and exclusively detains families, including children, pending removal from the UK.

A recent report on Cedars by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons felt it necessary to make the recommendation that UK Border Agency (UKBA) and G4S (who run Cedars for UKBA) should never use force when removing children or pregnant women. It cites a pregnant woman subjected to “substantial force” by G4S employees including being dragged out of her wheelchair. UKBA, however, have refused to accept the recommendation, stating that without the ability to use force, removals could be delayed. UKBA appear be giving precedence to their own targets over the welfare of vulnerable people. They further added that they could not rule out physical intervention with regards to children. The Refugee Children’s Consortium have said: “We are appalled that the Border Agency continues to use physical force against children and pregnant women when removing them from the UK, despite the grave concerns raised by the Prison Inspectorate” and have also called upon UKBA to produce a published policy on the use of force against children.

As well as rejecting the Prison Inspectorate’s recommendation to never use force against pregnant women and children, UKBA have also rejected their recommendation to delay the removal of detainees who allege assault during removal when the assault is supported by medical evidence. UKBA say that these complaints can be investigated after the detainee has been removed. However, asylum seekers often become difficult to trace once they have been removed as they may be forced to go underground, or may be detained upon arrival in their home country. This means that, in practice, any investigation after removal is difficult.

Detention

Detention as part of the asylum system is wrong and STAR is committed to campaigning against it. Seeking asylum is a human right, not a crime. STAR Action Week 2013, which runs from 18-24th February, will see the launch of a new campaign against detention. You can find out more about our detention campaign here.

Posted by STAR team on 16/01/2013 at 05:05 PM