Month: October 2010
On Tuesday 26 October, a judicial review challenge to the Government’s family detention policy reaches the High Court in London. The Claimants – two single mothers and their young children – are seeking an order declaring the Government’s family detention policy unlawful. In May 2010, the Coalition Government announced that it would end the detention of children for immigration purposes, a practice that the Deputy Prime Minister described as “a moral outrage”.
Five months on, children continue to be held at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre for indeterminate periods in prison-like conditions, the Government’s plans having stalled and been watered down. Last February, Reetha Suppiah, Sakinat Bello and their children were arrested by UK Border Agency officers in dawn raids. They and their children were loaded into vans with caged windows and driven to Yarl’s Wood in a state of confusion and distress. Reetha and her two boys (aged 1 and 11) were detained for 17 days, whilst Sakinat and her two year-old daughter were held for 12 days before being released back into the community. Both families had been reporting regularly to the immigration authorities prior to their arrest. Upon arrival at Yarl’s Wood, all of the children became sick, suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting.
It appears that the welfare needs of the families were not properly taken into account or even assessed prior to the decision to detain, and the detention experience has had a profound effect upon them. Reetha’s eldest child was particularly badly affected and recalls seeing “policemen everywhere” in Yarl’s Wood. Since his release, he has lived in continuous fear of re-arrest. The families claim that their detention was unlawful and that it subjected them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also allege breaches of the children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Jim Duffy of Public Interest Lawyers said today: “Our clients’ experiences and the broad expert consensus point to a practice that is inhumane, destructive and unnecessary. Child detention has to end now.” The claim will be heard over three days from 26th until 28th October.
For further information please contact Public Interest Lawyers on 07912 691 727.
The Bevins Prize was founded in memory of Tony Bevins, the first political editor of The Independent, who died in 2001 after a short illness, to recognise outstanding achievement in investigative reporting. For the first time in the history of the prize, a non-newspaper nominee, End Child Detention Now’s Clare Sambrook has made the shortlist for her investigative reports into the detention of children in the immigration system for openDemocracy.net
On hearing news of the announcement, Clare Sambrook said, ‘This is brilliant news for the campaign and a real credit to the doctors who gathered the evidence of harm to children. All I’ve done is report on how the government and civil servants tried to bury the evidence.’
The award of the Rat Up a Drainpipe trophy will be presented at a reception in central London on 9 November. The six judges include last year’s winner, Guardian journalist Paul Lewis for his reports into the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots, journalist Heather Brooke; Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty; Colin Hughes, director of Guardian News & Media; Ken Livingstone and journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr.
Read the full story in the Press Gazzette.
Clare Sambrook’s campaigns page (contains links to the many end child detention stories she has written and generated).