Thursday, August 26, 2010
Nick Clegg has yet to deliver his recent pledge to end child detention and close down the family wing at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Detaining children is immoral and unacceptable; we must ensure the Government upholds its commitment.
Locking up children is inexcusable
Detaining children is not just immoral; it is unnecessary, expensive and harmful. Innocent children who have fled persecution and need protection are often treated like criminals and locked up without trial. Last year alone, 1,065 children and their families were held in detention.
A Medical Justice report revealed that children repeatedly suffer physical and psychological damage as a result of detention. Of the 141 children assessed, 92 endured physical illness including fevers and vomiting, whilst 74 were harmed mentally, later suffering from nightmares and insomnia.
The Home Office claims that detention is only used prior to the removal of failed asylum seekers to avoid individuals ‘disappearing’. Yet, a recent study discovered that half of the individuals held in one detention centre were later released (Chief Inspector of Prisons, March 2010). Children and their families are often detained unnecessarily for weeks or even months before their claims are assessed.
Awaiting confirmation of closure
On the 21st July, Nick Clegg pledged to end the detention of children describing it as a ‘moral outrage’ and promised to close the family wing at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
Despite this pledge, there has been no further mention of the closure of Yarl’s Wood family unit and Parliament is now in summer recess. It is crucial that the Government is made to deliver its promise.
The only acceptable alternative to detention is liberty
A leaked paper drawn up by Nicola Rea from Manchester City Council detailed new pilot schemes recently launched by UKBA (UK Border Agency) in London and the Northwest. These schemes give families facing forced removal two weeks to either accept voluntary return or be forcibly removed. UKBA holds the power to put children in ‘care’, arrest and remove them from the UK and detain their family.
Rushed and inappropriate alternatives could have devastating impacts for both refugee children and their families. The only acceptable alternative to detention is liberty. Individuals, especially children deserve to be treated with human decency while they await the decision on their asylum claim.
Campaigning is crucial
STAR continues campaigning to ensure the Government upholds its commitment and produces the policy and legislation to eradicate child detention and family separation.
The immigration system must ensure the welfare of children and their families is protected and that they are treated humanely throughout the process.
Find out more about how you can get involved in our campaigns.
Posted by Communications on 26/08/2010 at 10:25 AM