Month: November 2009

Home Office Select Committee calls Yarl’s Wood ‘a prison’ for children

yarl's wood_SP

By Simon Parker

In a report released today the Home Affairs Select Committee expressed a number of concerns about the detention of children in the UK immigration system but failed to acknowledge that the detention of children for any length of time is abusive and harmful to their well being. In the first part of its report the Committee declares:

‘ must be remembered that Yarl’s Wood remains essentially a prison…while we accept that conditions have improved, we still regret that such a facility is needed in the first place’.

Unfortunately the committee’s regret that the UKBA runs child prisons did not extend to recommending that the Home Office stop locking children up in them.

‘We are…willing to accept the detention of families and small children provided that this is for short periods of time which ideally are defined in advance, and when this is the very final stage in the immigration removal process’.

It is astonishing that the Select Committee could ignore the very clear advice from the Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green that,

‘…depriving children of their liberty and detaining them for administrative convenience is never likely to be in their best interests and should be ended’

while they completely ignored the only peer reviewed medical research into Yarl’s Wood that showed that even short periods of detention are damaging to children’s physical and mental health.

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CHILD DETENTION: who benefits?

clare-sambrook-100By Clare Sambrook

THERE is no evidence that asylum-seekers with children are likely to abscond, yet the Government forcibly detains at least 2,000 children and babies every year and holds them, sometimes for months on end, in conditions known to damage their physical and mental health.

Why on earth would our Government do that?

One principle that has guided investigations since Roman times is: Cui Bono? Who benefits?

Business is booming at G4S, the company that runs Tinsley House Removal Centre where last month ten-year-old Adeoti Ogunsola, after being forcibly redetained, tried to strangle herself.

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Churches call for end to detention of child asylum seekers

Christian Today

Posted: Friday, November 20, 2009, 13:51 (GMT)

Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church leaders have called on people to send an extra card this Christmas, to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP, asking him to end the detention of children in the asylum system.

The Rev David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference, criticised the Government for making Britain the only country in Europe which locks up children of people who have had their asylum claims declined.

“Every year hundreds of children are sent to detention centres. Most of them are under five years old and many of them are locked up for more than a month. Holding innocent children in detention centres can never be justified,” he said.

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British boy, 6, to be sent to Congo in divorce row Schoolboy’s mother ordered to go to Congo Republic


By JO STEELE – Monday, November 16, 2009

A boy of six who was born in Britain faces being sent to a war-ravaged part of Africa because his parents split up.

Adrian Atkinson’s mother, Anna, has been ordered to go to the Congo Republic within the next nine days.

The decision, based on Ms Atkinson’s divorce from Adrian’s father Daniel, has spurred the boy’s friends at Welbeck Primary School in Newcastle to begin a petition. Ms Atkinson also hopes to meet MP Nick Brown for help to overturn the Home Office decision.

Adrian is scared to go to Africa. He was born in Britain and has never even been out of the country on holiday,’ said Ms Atkinson, from Newcastle.

He will not be able to talk to other children because they speak French and he will be seen as an outcast because he is of mixed race, added the 28-year-old.

Ms Atkinson fled the Congo ten years ago after her sister was killed. She later married British oil worker Daniel Atkinson but divorced two years ago.

Adrian can stay but friends say he could not face being away from his mother.

The UK Border Agency confirmed Ms Atkinson’s application was turned down.

SNP demands end to child detentions

Welcoming news that Gordon Brown is to apologise for the UK’s role in sending thousands of its children to former colonies in the 20th century, SNP MSP for Central Scotland Christina McKelvie has repeated calls on the UK Government to end the 21st century detention of children in UK Border Agency immigration removal centres.

The SNP oppose the detention of children in Dungavel and Scottish Government efforts have led to the establishment of a pilot project intended to keep children out of the centre. However, earlier this month SNP Home Affairs spokesperson Pete Wishart MP obtained officials figures, normally used for internal Border Agency information only, revealing that:

• between October 2008 and September 2009 103 children were detained at Dungavel in Scotland
• between July 2008 and July 2009 884 children were held at Yarls Wood in England
• between Sept 2008 and August 2009 328 children were held at Tinsley House
• 1315 children were detained in three detention centres across the UK in a 15 month period
• In the last 5 years 889 children from 488 families have been held for over 28 days – this requires ministers to personally approve continued detention.

Commenting, Ms McKelvie said:

“Gordon Brown is right to apologise for the UK’s role in sending these children to former colonies in the 20th century, this was a shameful period in our history and it is important that this is recognised. Read more

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2,000 petition target reached – 91 MPs sign Commons motion – Disguising detention of children

no10_petThis has been a momentous week for the end child detention campaign with the No10 petition recording its 2,000th name – one for every child arrested and locked up by the UK Borders Agency just because they or their parents have dared to claim asylum and refused to be returned to countries the Home Office declares to be “safe” such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the Congo.

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Detention of asylum seeking children is abuse


By Clare Sambrook, a co-ordinator of citizens’ campaign End Child Detention Now

Community Care, November 4 2009.

One key feature of government guidance issued this week on how UK Border Agency staff should care for the children they lock up, is ‘safer recruitment’. Officers raiding family homes and searching children in their beds will be thoroughly checked, with ‘references always taken up’.

That begs the question: just how low were standards until now?
Actually, we don’t need to guess how bad things are in UKBA’s asylum-seeker prisons.

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Woolas admits to detaining more than 1,300 children over 15 months – Petition passes 1,900

SNP MP Pete Wishart questions Home Office figures on child detention and states that holding children in adult detention centres is “simply wrong”. The immigration minister Phil Woolas, in a letter to Mr Wishart (who has signed Chris Mullin’s EDM), also revealed that 889 children from 488 families had been detained for more than 28 days between April 2004 and September 2009. Read the full story from BBC News.

Meanwhile, popular pressure on the prime minister continues to mount with more than 1,900 people now having signed the no10 petition calling for an end to child detention. ECDN agrees with Pete Wishart that because so many are re-detained or moved to other detention facilities, or held in emergency detention sites without any record being taken – the actual numbers are far higher than those quoted by Woolas. All the more reason for us to reach our 2,000 target to show the human cost of mass child detention – so please pass on the link to friends, family and colleagues. We are as heartened by the support of outraged members of the public as we are by that of eminent psychologists, doctors, academics, broadcasters and writers. So keep those names coming!

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