Month: July 2010

Yarl’s Wood is the Moral Outrage

Writing in The Guardian on Friday 23 July 2010, Phil Shiner and Daniel Carey from Public Interest Lawyers explain why the closure of the family wing at Yarl’s Wood is only a step towards a more humane asylum policy.

The deputy prime minister’s announcement to parliament that the family wing at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre is to close is an important, but partial, step towards restoring the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The “moral outrage” expressed by Nick Clegg reflects only that expressed by immigrant families, doctors, campaigning organisations and even the children’s commissioner for some time. For too long the centre has come to embody the deep malaise in Britain’s treatment of those seeking refuge.

The article goes on to point out that the new Home Secretary has continued the previous government’s policy of refusing to accept that detainees in Yarl’s Wood have been denied their fundamental rights and its failure to address the chronic lack of legal representation and denial of justice that continues to be endemic within the UK asylum system. Read the full article here.

Rethinking Ayslum

Colin Firth
Re-posted from OpenDemocracy 15 July 2010

As the Coalition government reappraises how the UK treats those who seek sanctuary within its borders, OurKingdom publishes an article by actor Colin Firth based on his submission to the Home Office Review into Ending the Detention of Children for Immigration Purposes.

Last month, at a Citizens UK event in London, the new immigration minister Damian Green appeared to reject the views of extremist politicians, saying he believes many asylum seekers are genuine refugees deserving of our help, that CO. I hope these principles will inform his decisions during the current review into ending child detention for immigration purposes, and that we are moving towards a humane and evidence-based asylum system.

We have a long way to go.

While this review takes place attempts are being made to remove asylum seekers to war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

Most of these people will have been denied the opportunity to obtain the necessary proofs of their case. Their initial interviews — 17 pages in English — based on a series of questions eliciting the narrative in a non-consecutive way, may confuse the applicant. Interpretation is often inadequate. Dialects may differ. Several cases have been delayed because the individuals making the decision found the initial interviewer’s writing illegible. (One such example was reported to the Southampton MP Alan Whitehead).

The previous government cut legal aid provision to 5 hours:  lawyers insist that cases require at least 18 hours to process. In hearings the presumption is often made that the person(s) concerned are lying. Attempts are made to trip them up by reference to the first interview, when they were bewildered and frightened.

Many women seeking asylum have been raped. Despite strong evidence that women do not disclose sexual violence to a male stranger, especially in front of male relatives, this is frequently the situation they find themselves in at their initial asylum interview. When, later, they disclose rape and sexual violence, they are disbelieved.

Adjudicators rarely treat the appellant with respect. Decisions are made by people who may lack understanding of in-country conditions, under pressure to achieve targets that the UKBA’s own inspector calls ‘unachievable’.

As Thomas Hammarberg, the Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe said in his stinging rebuke of UK asylum policy two years ago: “celerity and quality of decision-making in the complex field of refugee law and protection are rarely a matching pair.”

Hammarberg also strongly opposed “the UK practice of aliens’ forced returns on the basis of diplomatic assurances which are inherently flawed since they are usually sought from countries with long-standing, proven records of torture and ill-treatment.”

Indeed it is hard to see the government’s logic in sending vulnerable Somalis to Mogadishu, the capital of a failed state, the world’s most violent city and a place too unsafe to have a working British Embassy.

“If we must return families to such countries,” said Chris Mullin MP, “we should take some interest in what happens to them after they have disembarked. That might involve putting some money in their pockets, employing an NGO to see them safely through the airport and back to where they came from, and perhaps a little help with reintegrating.”

Reintegration was not an issue for Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, a failed asylum-seeker returned to Darfur under a UK government repatriation scheme. Just days after arriving in his village, in full sight of his wife and four-year-old son, he was gunned down by Sudanese security officers.

Adam’s return was not a unique and terrible mistake. In April of this year Amnesty International accused Britain (along with a number of other European countries) of forcibly repatriating Iraqis to “extremely dangerous” parts of the country — in breach of United Nations guidelines.

Damian Green rightly recognised there is a need for “a general review of the asylum system … to ensure that decisions are right first time”.

But “right first time” decisions are less likely than ever since the government’s decision last month to let Refugee & Migrant Justice fail, depriving many thousands of asylum-seekers of decent legal representation. In a last ditch appeal to the government to save RMJ, the largest specialist national provider of legal representation to asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned: “Lives will be put at risk and there are likely to be many more miscarriages of justice – which are already common in our asylum system.”

Bishop John Packer said: “It is hard to see how any government or society with a concern for justice could allow it to cease its work.”

Lord McNally’s reassurance that the government was “giving high priority”to minimising the “disruption” in allocating the 10,000-plus cases previously managed by RMJ, is not borne out by reports from the field. There, chaos rules.

It should go without saying that the separation of parents and children must be specifically prohibited in the new arrangements for asylum-seeking families. Separation would be contrary both to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 22 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as Section 55 of the Border, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

Since the 1950s, when John Bowlby began to examine the impact of maternal separation on young children, our society’s whole approach to the needs of the child has been predicated on the importance of avoiding maternal / parental separation especially at times of stress when children are more vulnerable to harm (for example when they are sick or in hospital).

Yet, in spite of the clearly recorded vulnerability of child refugees and asylum seekers, (who as a consequence of being asylum seekers are likely to be experiencing material poverty, poor quality housing, discrimination, poor diets and problematic access to health and social care services), the UK Border Agency has had few qualms about separating young asylum seekers and refugees from their parents.

In his February 2010 follow up report to, The arrest and detention of children subject to immigration control, the then Children’s Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green said: “Separating young children from their parents – even for a short time during transportation (to detention centres) – is potentially extremely damaging and should only be used in the most extreme circumstances.”

He goes on:

We have received at least three reports in which children – even very young children – have been separated from their parent when initially taken from home to the local enforcement office . . . This has the potential to be extremely damaging to the child who may not have the capacity to understand when or how they will be reunited with their parent. We have documentary evidence of the effects of this on one small child and it makes very uncomfortable reading.

It is unconscionable that our government would choose as an alternative to detention the planned and deliberate separation of a baby, child or young person from his or her parents.

Regular reporting is a cheap and effective alternative to detention. Other options could include a close link with a social worker or with a member of an approved NGO. I welcome the pilot scheme that was launched in Glasgow and which saw asylum families housed in former council flats, under a partnership between the council, the Scottish government and the UKBA. But I remain concerned that evaluation of this scheme focuses on its ability to secure higher return rates and not on the well being of the children and families concerned. David Wood of the UKBA admitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee last year that families are very unlikely to abscond:

Whilst issues are raised about absconding, that is not our biggest issue. It does happen but it is not terribly easy for a family unit to abscond.

All the evidence points to the fact that higher rates of compliance with voluntary returns will be achieved only if families who have fled danger to seek sanctuary here are permitted to dwell in the community while their cases are being considered, and are supported and kept informed of the progress of their case by dedicated case managers.

I agree with the report from Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice that excellent, available legal advice, the trustworthiness of the workers they have contact with, and support — not destitution — are the conditions most likely to achieve the voluntary returns the government is seeking.

Any civilised nation should respond this way to those who seek sanctuary. Families who are to be returned should be treated with dignity and respect; they are, in the words of the Bishop of Southwark, not worthless scroungers to be despised but, “men and women who are anxious and frightened and trying to keep body and soul together in a strange land.”

I call on the government to end the immigration detention of children and to adopt more humane alternatives that recognise the rights of all children to be treated with dignity and respect. Families should never be left destitute. Central to any fair and just alternative would be community-based access to housing, food, clothing, health and social care, alongside good quality legal representation.

The lack of understanding around asylum seekers, and the climate of suspicion so easily stirred up by media and politicians, has seeped into the culture of the legal system and the enforcement process.

We need to elevate the human and civil rights status of innocent asylum seekers to at least the level we accord our criminals.

Colin Firth is an actor and activist and co-founder of Brightwide — the website for social and political cinema. With thanks to Clare Sambrook, Esme Madill, Simon Parker, Professor John Mellor, Dennis Cook and Dr Shirley Firth.

ECDN addresses General Synod Meeting on the Child Detention Review

Address to the Fringe Meeting of the General Synod’s Mission and Public Affairs Council on Child Immigration Detention with End Child Detention Now and the Children’s Society, York, 10 July 2010.

Esme Madill on behalf of End Child Detention Now.

Thank you very much for inviting us here today.

End Child Detention Now welcomes the coalition government’s commitment to ending child immigration detention.

In the light of this commitment and the review today I am going to talk about how the ECDN Citizen’s Campaign came about and hope this will show two things. One how critical it is that we hold the government to its promise to end child detention and strive to work towards a just and fairer asylum system and secondly how small groups of committed people can join with others and really make a difference.

We talk about the campaign beginning with a 2 year old boy Ali but in fact is started a year earlier when three sisters, Jeannie, Joyce and Lauren were woken at 5.50am. Their door was broken in and their mum was dragged and pushed down the stairs in front of the girls. Their mum has a life threatening illness – she relied on a cocktail of drugs to keep her alive so absconding was really not an option. Nonetheless the family were driven to Yarls’ Wood – Joyce, then aged 11 had a school trip to the seaside the next day, she had not been to the seaside before, she didn’t go then either. Lauren, then aged three was so frightened when she arrived at Yarl’s Wood she hid under the bed crying that she just wanted to go home. They spent 23 days in detention. We found a friend, a barrister who acted pro bono and they now all have refugee status. Their mum volunteers part time at the local school and is an active member of the church. The children are thriving.

Though we had begun to understand the horrors of child immigration detention when Jeannie, Lauren and Joyce won their case we decided we’d get on with our lives and hold a BBQ to celebrate – but by the time the BBQ took place – waiting for a sunny day and a time everyone could make – we were in the midst of another immigration nightmare.

Cicek is a friend of ours – she and her daughters come to the weekly drop-in for refugees and asylum seekers in York. Cicek’s family are Kurdish and were politically active in Turkey and they have suffered for it. A cousin was shot dead, male and female members of the family were imprisoned, and Fadima, Cicek’s sister has never really recovered from this. A quiet spoken, shy and nervous woman, one Monday she had gone to the police station in Barrow to sign on as she did each month without her 2 year old son. He was with her husband’s cousin as she did not like him to see her at the police station. She had been detained – her family were terrified. The custody sergeant thought she was at risk of harming herself

She was transferred to Dungavel where her husband had been held for 8 months.

For four days she was kept separated from her son. Every time I called Cicek who was looking after him to say what the latest news was from the UKBA all I could hear in the background was Ane, Ane, Ane, Turkish for Mum – He only stops crying when he is asleep Cicek tells me.

Finally on the Thursday a van took Ali to be reunited with his parents and they were then taken off to Yarl’s Wood to begin their 26-days of detention. A stay during which Fadima sank into a catatonic state, and was unable to sleep, eat or speak. Ali meanwhile lost weight and constantly called for his cousins.

Over the following three weeks the family were booked on a plane – the deportation was only averted when Cicek and I worked together to submit a fresh claim. We had no lawyer (we called 30 – and faxed papers to three who said they might help but could not).  Just before midnight the day before they were due to fly the appeal was faxed and at the 11th hour was accepted. But they were to spend many more days in detention – living some kind of half-life.

Finally, through Medical Justice, we found a solicitor who secured their release. They have now been granted leave to remain but they have in no way recovered from their experiences.

That is just one story and through fighting to get this family out and keep them safe we learnt of so many others.

During the weeks that Ali and his parents were detained we campaigned ceaselessly. Clare Sambrook a former journalist on a national newspaper, a novelist and friend orchestrated the press campaign: the local papers in Barrow and Cumbria were hugely supportive, as were the Big Issue in the North and Radio Cumbria. We lobbied MPs, called on all our friends, set up a Facebook page and a website. This time the levels of support and our rage and anger made it logical not to stop.

We would harness this desire to protect Ali to protect many others like him – we would join OutCry! and Citizens for Sanctuary and we would not stop until children stopped being detained.

The campaign was launched in September 2009 with an Early Day Motion sponsored by Chris Mullin MP calling upon the government to end the practice of holding children in immigration detention centres. 121 MPs supported the Motion.

We knew changing people’s hearts and minds was crucial so we launched a tireless press campaign. Clare Sambrook researched and wrote investigative stories and articles — published in Open Democracy, Private Eye and The Guardian on-line — exposing Home Office efforts to bury medical evidence of harm at Yarl’s Wood and illuminating the government’s relationship with the security companies who run the detention centres for profit.

We enabled families detained at Yarl’s Wood to get their letter to Nick Clegg published in the Observer.

The End Child Detention Now team — a group of friends working unpaid — have written our own comment articles across the national and professional press — Guardian, Independent, Community Care, Nursery World, Big Issue in the North

We did not want to work alone – our close links with refugee community in York and London enabled us to organise public events, with those who themselves have experienced detention and seen the devastation it causes. In York the logo for our campaign- a child’s hand print – came from a 14 year old who was detained in Dover Holding centre – those 48 hours in detention were enough to make her an ardent supporter of our campaign and very proud of her now famous handprint.

At the York drop–in each Sunday Ali’s cousins and friends made prints of their hands and wrote asking the PM to stop locking up other little boys and girls. In London Luljeta Nuzi of the Shpresa Programme, consulted her young refugees – they were adamant they wanted to come on board – 200 hand prints later, on a freezing day in December Jeremy Corbyn joined a group of these young Albanian refugees to deliver hand prints and hard copies of the petition to number 10.

This same group of young refugees held a vigil between Christmas and New Year asking others not to forget the children spending Christmas in detention. In York Quakers and refugees joined together for a similar public event.

At the very outset faith groups embraced this cause. Bishop John Packer gave us our first quote for our very first press release. Bishops from the Church of England, the church of Scotland, the Church in Wales and the Catholic church, as well as leaders and moderators of the URC, Baptists, Methodists, the Salvation Army, the Iona Community, the Quakers and the Evangelical Alliance signed a public letter published in the Telegraph calling for an end to child detention. They stated that:

As faith leaders we affirm the value and potential of every child’s life and believe that this is seriously threatened by using child detention as part of immigration policy. We ask the Government to afford children who have come to our shores to seek sanctuary the same level of concern, care and protection of human rights that it affords all other children in this country.

As well as the faith leaders’ letters we co-ordinated public letters signed by prominent, novelists, children’s writers and actors, published in the Guardian, and Observer. Beverley Naidoo, one of the authors then visited Yarl’s Wood and ran a workshop for children incarcerated there. We corresponded with the then Prime Minister and the Chief Executive of the UKBA – meticulously researching the evidence of the harm detention causes and the more humane alternatives that exist.

We’ve used Facebook and Twitter to bring new readers to our published material, and to make our point again and again – there is no need to lock up children.

In seven months nearly 5000 people signed the End Child Detention Now on-line petition launched the same week as the EDM and more than many hundreds more signed the hard copy.

By Feb 2010 Jeremy Corbyn was telling us there had been a sea change in Westminster – the EDM and press coverage he assured us was making MPs feel very uncomfortable. The Lib Dems had also included a commitment to ending child detention in their manifesto.

So the combined efforts of the children’s charities, refugee community groups, faith leaders, community organisations, the Children’s Commissioner, medics, authors, actors and the men and women in the street – have brought an end to child detention.

So have we won? It feels like a victory but also not. We need to know the alternatives that are to be put in place. There has been talk of tagging and family separation.

Meanwhile Refugee and Migrant Justice has folded. In York, where we already struggled to find legal advice we now have none. How can families make their cases without access to any legal services – how can this be justice? Families remain destitute and isolated.

But we have learned lessons from this campaign and while we know there is so much still to fight for if the children of asylum seekers are to be treated as fully human, we also know what is possible – that small groups of people can join together and become a voice that cannot be ignored. We know that we cannot let evil prevail by doing nothing, but we have also learned it is possible to harness anger and rage at injustice, shame at our government’s treatment of the most vulnerable in society and use this to hold those in power to account. This is a valuable lesson.

Simon Parker on behalf of End Child Detention Now.

In our submission to the Home Office’s review of child detention we began by quoting Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, in the recent House of Commons debate on alternatives to child detention when he said:

The main alternative that I can think of to detaining 1,000 children a year is not to detain them’.

That must be our starting point. It is for the UKBA and the other national and local government bodies along with relevant charities, voluntary agencies and campaign organisations to develop humane alternatives that keep this objective at the front of all the review’s deliberations.

We then point to the deficiencies of the existing asylum process, which have contributed to the UK having the lowest number of voluntary returns in Europe. These include

  • the lack of adequate legal representation for families who wish to make an asylum claim or appeal against a refusal of asylum lies and the long delays in resolving cases lies at the root of the problem.
  • the lack of contact with families or
  • information on assisted voluntary return prior to the issuance of removal notices.
  • the absence of a ‘children’s rights first’ culture within the UKBA, despite the provisions of Section 55 of the 2009 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act and the appointment of a Children’s Champion.
  • This problem has been exacerbated by an institutional culture within the Home Office, the UKBA and among previous ministers of state that the maintenance of a detention regime is an essential deterrent against those who may make unfounded asylum claims in future.

End Child Detention Now believes that all those involved in considering alternative arrangements to detention must agree a clear distinction between the need to ensure the welfare and best interests of the child and the UK government’s legitimate objective in maintaining an effective asylum and immigration policy.

As Sir Al Aynsley-Green has stated, this requires a change of mindset from a culture of ‘deny, detain, deport’ to one which removes the adversarial aspect of case management, grants leave to remain to those who require the United Kingdom’s protection and supports and compassionately facilitates the return of those who do not.

Length of Detention

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons found that at least a third of child inmates are detained for more than a month.

The Immigration Law Practitioners Association found in each of the years 2004 to 2007 that a number of children had been detained in excess of 100 days with one child having spent a shocking 190 days in detention.

The former Children’s Commissioner for England has also stated that, ‘[w]e remain very concerned at the length of detention experienced by significant numbers of children and are not convinced that this is always “for the shortest appropriate period of time” as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Damian Green said in the recent Westminster Hall debate

in some cases we may still have to have recourse to holding families for a short period before removal-where keeping the family together is seen as being in the best interests of the children, which of course must be the paramount concern (Hansard 17 June 2010 Col 214 WH).

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does not stipulate a time limit beyond which it would be unreasonable to hold a child, but the government must take account of the overwhelming medical evidence that even quite short periods of detention can have a significant harmful impact on a child’s health and well-being.

We are particularly concerned that if while a family is held in pre-removal detention there is a problem with documentation or an escort is unavailable (as frequently happens) or if there is an outstanding legal appeal then the period of detention could be extended for days or even weeks.

It is therefore vital that in the normal course of events detention should not be used at all prior to removal, but in the rare cases where it does prove necessary due to the timing of flights and travelling distance to the airport that families are held for no longer than 24 hours in hotel type accommodation and not high security detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood or Tinsley House.

If the UKBA fails to effect a removal within that time period it must return the family to the community and allow a period of at least 3 months before issuing fresh removal instructions.

Family Separation

We are concerned about the new government’s mixed messages on separating families – while Dame Pauline Neville-Jones appeared to rule out separating families as an alternative to detention in the House of Lords, Damian Green was much more equivocal in his speech during the recent Westminster Hall debate

…there will remain difficult cases where solutions will have to be found and where enforced removals are likely to continue. That approach could involve separating different members of a family and reuniting them before departure, so that some family members stay in the accommodation they are used to. However, I recognise that that approach would be hugely contentious and has its own practical difficulties

Not the least of the practical difficulties is that separating families for no good reason other than for the purposes of immigration control is a clear breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What concerns us, and many of the organisations we work with, is that the Home Office in general and the UK Border Agency in particular appear to believe that they are ‘above the law’.

Damian Green’s civil servants continue to brief him on policy alternatives that confirm the impression of Mr Justice Collins in the case of two unaccompanied minors who were forcibly and illegally returned to Italy:

Ministers and senior civil servants at UKBA do not understand what is meant by ‘the rule of law’ and they do not understand that it is not something that can be selectively toyed with. Either they do not understand it or, more worryingly, they perfectly well understand it and don’t give a damn. There is undoubtedly a culture of institutional unlawfulness, to coin a phrase.

The Refugee Children’s Consortium and all the other agencies working in this field – including the Churches Refugee Network, along with current and former children’s commissioners have been consistent in opposing any attempt to separate families as an alternative to child detention and we hope that the Synod will be equally strong in highlighting the damaging effect that family separation can have on children as it has in the case of detention.

Inadequate Legal Support

Esme has already pointed to the Olympian efforts that had to be made just to secure legal representation for a family that now have leave to remain but who would otherwise have been deported and facing real hardship and danger in their country of origin.

In 2008, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, expressed deep concerns at the serious reduction of legal aid provided to asylum seekers in the United Kingdom.

We are encouraged that the new government has rightly identified the issue of families’ access to legal representation as an important factor in improving the current system, but as many of you will be aware Refugee and Migrant Justice – the largest provider of legal support to asylum seekers is in administration and most of its regional offices have closed.

As the Churches Refugee Network wrote in its submission to the review:

In its press statement the Ministry of Justice blithely states that it is “confident that there is widespread provision of legal advice in this area, with more than 250 offices nationally providing this type of service”; the Ministry is well aware that swathes of the country are a legal desert so far as such provision goes.

The Spending Review is likely to impose even more draconian cuts on the Legal Services Commission meaning that publicly funded immigration work will only become viable for unscrupulous firms and practitioners who offer poor representation.

But the government will actually save money in the long run if it ensures the provision of early high quality legal advice, and provides independent case management to the family. A point that is strongly made in the Joint Children’s Commissioners submission.

As in Canada we also need to move to a system where it is not the Border Agency that rules on the merits of an individual asylum claim but an independent agency that is not judged by the number of returns in proportion to new claims but by the quality of its case-work and the welfare of its clients.

Concluding Comments

The campaign to end child detention has been a success, but it can only be considered a partial one until the outcome of the review is published and the alternatives scrutinised and the consequences for the thousands of families who will be affected properly investigated.

There is still much work to do and we have particular concerns about the fate of unaccompanied minors and government plans to return these very vulnerable young people to war zones such as Afghanistan.

Despite the provision of a ‘reintegration centre’ there are very grave risks that these youngsters will be exposed to and we cannot just wash our hands of our responsibility since it is a conflict to which the UK continues to be an active contributor.

We support the Joint Children’s Commissioners call for ongoing dialogue beyond the review, that ensures that the views, interests and well-being of children are at the forefront of new policy, practice and procedure.

We hope that that the Synod will continue to play an important role in that dialogue and we look forward to working with the Church in ensuring that the government honours its pledge to end the scandal of child immigration detention.

End Child Detention Now calls for permanent halt to detention in government review

Immigration Minister Damian Green’s invitation to submit evidence to the government’s review of child immigration detention ended on 1 July 2010. End Child Detention Now’s submission can be read in full here. Please visit the Review page for submissions from other organisations and concerned individuals – more will be added as we receive them.   A summary of ECDN’s submission follows:

Summary of End Child Detention Now’s Submission to the Home Office/Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund Review into ENDING THE DETENTION OF CHILDREN FOR IMMIGRATION PURPOSES.

We are conscious that a number of other agencies and organisations have direct experience of working with detained asylum seeker families, so in what follows we reprise the key evidence that has been presented in the last twelve months on the significant harm that even short periods of detention can have on children and young people.

We agree with Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, in the recent House of Commons debate on alternatives to child detention when he said,

‘The main alternative that I can think of to detaining 1,000 children a year is not to detain them’.

That must be our starting point. It is for the UKBA and the other national and local government bodies along with relevant charities, voluntary agencies and campaign organisations to develop humane alternatives that keep this objective at the front of all the review’s deliberations.

We argue that the lack of adequate legal representation for families who wish to make an asylum claim or appeal against a refusal of asylum lies and the long delays in resolving cases lies at the root of the problem. Another issue is the lack of contact with families or information on assisted voluntary return prior to the issuance of removal notices.

We note the absence of a ‘children’s rights first’ culture within the UKBA, despite the provisions of Section 55 of the 2009 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act and the appointment of a Children’s Champion. This problem has been exacerbated by an institutional culture within the Home Office, the UKBA and among previous ministers of state that the maintenance of a detention regime is an essential deterrent against those who may make unfounded asylum claims in future.

End Child Detention Now believes that all those involved in considering alternative arrangements to detention must agree a clear distinction between the need to ensure the welfare and best interests of the child and the UK government’s legitimate objective in maintaining an effective asylum and immigration policy.

As Sir Al Aynsley-Green has stated, this requires a change of mindset from a culture of ‘deny, detain, deport’ to one which removes the adversarial aspect of case management, grants leave to remain to those who require the United Kingdom’s protection and supports and compassionately facilitates the return of those who do not.

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