UKBA arrests and imprisons an 8 month old baby days after government pledges to end child detention

Last night an 8 month old baby and her mother were arrested, taken from their home and forcibly detained in Dungavel immigration removal centre in Scotland.

So what’s going on..?

On 12 May, the new government said, ‘We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes’.

There was nothing in the declaration to indicate that the process would be anything other than swift or immediate. Then on Monday 16 May, Damian Green, the newly appointed immigration minister, announced:

Our coalition government is committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes, we think this is the right thing to do. I hope that we can have plans agreed within the next few months.

I am launching a comprehensive review of alternatives to child detention, including opening a dialogue with relevant stakeholders, organisations and experts.

This work has already started, because it is in all our interests, including those children currently in detention, to do it quickly, but to also do it well and safely.

While keeping children’s welfare at the heart of what we do, our government is committed to returning those with no right to stay in the UK

Green then added in a statement to the BBC:

Whilst this immediate review is ongoing, current policy remains in place.

Let’s be clear. There is not a single reputable, independent medical or psychological study that will show the detention of children to be anything other than harmful and abusive.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the paediatrician who, as the first Children’s Commissioner for England, did more than any single person to expose the arrest and detention of innocent children, the injustices and sheer horror of their lived experiences, said:

I am looking for two things: A demonstration of intent by releasing those currently held, not least because absconding is not an issue. Within weeks rather than months produce robust proposals. Detention is inhumane and shocking and there is no place for it in a country that claims to be civilised.

Stakeholders, organisations and experts should make it clear that child welfare is the absolute priority and that no child’s interest can be served by being detained even for the 72 hours which the Home Office continues misleadingly to claim is the maximum period of detention in Tinsley House.

We are witnessing an orchestrated attempt to co-opt children’s charities and refugee and asylum seeker welfare organisations in the hope that by including them in dialogue and a pledge of future action the new administration will secure their silence and compliance.

Now is the time for all those individuals, groups, parties and organisations who genuinely want to see an IMMEDIATE END to the scandal of child immigration detention to mobilise and vocalise their anger and opposition to the imprisonment of baby Wanda and her mother Shehar, and the many other innocent victims of this brutal and unnecessary denial of basic human rights (if you would like to find out more about Shehar and Wanda contact Glasgow Unity at info@unitycentreglasgow.org).

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Lobby your MPs, especially if you have a Conservative or Liberal Democrat member of parliament, (you can find details via theyworkforyou). A model letter can be found at the top of this website.
  • Call Damian Green’s office on 020 7219 3518, fax 020 7219 0904 or email: greend@parliament.uk and demand to know why babies and children continue to be arrested and detained when the government pledged to stop it.
  • Write to the national and local press expressing your anger that the government is failing to honour this most easily achieved and humanitarian of its coalition pledges.
  • Keep checking our website for details of actions we will be taking up and down the country in the run up to refugee week to highlight the continuing abuse of children by the UK immigration authorities.

2 thoughts on “UKBA arrests and imprisons an 8 month old baby days after government pledges to end child detention”

  1. I have just left Damian Green’s office staff in no doubt whatsoever that, having being cheered by their statement on the cessation of the detention of children for immigration purposes, I am now appalled that their previous practice is still being continued!
    My name and phone number have been taken, in case anyone wants to ssk me any more.
    I hope lots of other people follow me in this!

  2. Thanks Joyce – hopefully lots of people are letting them know this must end now – especially in light of detentions happening yesterday.

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