Thursday, August 03, 2006

No way to treat a child

The UK's abysmal treatment of asylum-seeking children continues, despite the view of social workers that any child kept in the conditions that exist in immigration detention centres would normally be the subject of an emergency protection order.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, reports one 10-year-old as saying: "I was sick in the van, but they would not stop the van even to be sick or for fresh air", while a 13-year-old describes crying as she was handcuffed. They handcuffed a crying child who had not even committed an offence?

The Refugee Children's Consortium points out that between October and December 2005, 564 children arrived at Yarl's Wood. They say this negates the Government's claims that detention is a measure of last resort. For the children interviewed by Owers, the average length of time at Yarl's Wood was 23 days; some had stayed for 112.

Lisa Nandy, chair of the consortium and policy adviser at The Children's Society, says: "Owers has been producing reports like this for years and they point out consistent failings. Her reports show detention is not used as a last resort and a minimum period is not adhered to. We also have concerns about reviews when children are in detention."

The routine cruelty to asylum-seeking children is shameful, but the Home Office persists in doing precisely nothing about it. Take a look at the 'no place for a child' campaign to see if you can do something to help.

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