Friday, August 18, 2006

Home Office kicks out children

It's one of those mornings when being British makes us prickle with shame: in the Home Office’s latest bid to out-macho Gengis Khan, plans are afoot to tear up international treaty obligations and forcibly repatriate up to 500 unaccompanied Vietnamese refugee children, including many young girls who have been trafficked to the UK for prostitution. Wait, it gets worse:
Although Vietnam is being viewed as a pilot programme, details of the meeting also indicate that the Home Office is already considering the forced returns of a second wave of children to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, war-torn countries with poor human rights records.
What of our international obligation to consider a child’s best interests? Forget it!
One Home Office policy framework document sets out the way cases will be considered. A child's best interests will be "a primary consideration". However, it acknowledges: "There are likely to be occasions when IND takes a decision to remove ... which is not in accordance with the best interests of the child but is necessary for the immigration control."

The process would involve a Home Office planning meeting to decide on the future of the child. Children will be allowed non-legal representation, but the final decision about their forced removal will rest with the Home Office and there will be no right of appeal. They could be deported seven days later. Where possible, children will be returned to their families, although officials admit contacting relatives will be difficult.
Maybe a traumatic childhood is a prerequisite for working in the Home Office? They obviously have a major compassion-gap where children are concerned: not so long ago they asserted that child prisoners were "not just children" - and we mentioned the horrors of Yarl's Wood et al only 10 days ago.

This latest brainwave demonstrates that they really are not safe to be around children. Maybe we should put the Home Office on a register somewhere, and quickly despatch a crack team of psychotherapists to Marsham Street?


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