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.

But the pressure on the government to change its policy on locking up children is gathering pace – 91 MPs have now signed Chris Mullin and Peter Bottomley’s early day motion, while a House of Lords debate initiated by Lord Hylton on 4 November was an encouraging sign of how strongly many peers feel about the issue of family detention and just how feeble the government’s worn out and tired excuses come across. When Lord Spithead told the House of Lords that:

Detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary. We believe that that is especially true in the case of families with children, and that is reflected in our practice of not detaining families with children until close to their planned removal from the UK; they are usually detained just a few days before removal. There are some exceptions, but that is normally the case.

What the Under-Secretary for Security and Counter-terrorism (who with no trace of irony also carries the brief for the administrative detention of babies and children) fails to point out is that ‘some exceptions’ include literally hundreds of children who are routinely detained for more than 28 days. Well informed members of the House of Lords such as Lords Hylton and Avebury are not fooled by the Home Office’s attempts to disguise the vast scale of the detention industry and its human cost. Nor are readers of Henry Porter’s excellent article on Lord Spithead’s partner in spin, Lady Delyth Morgan, who is charged with connvincing parliament that the UK Borders Agency actively “promotes the welfare of children”- when the Children’s Commissioner for England  and HM Chief Inspector of Prisons have found found that at Yarl’s Wood, the UKBA does precisely the opposite.

Read the full Henry Porter article in Comment is Free here.

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