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  • Detention of asylum-seekers’ children to end

    by Rumbold
    17th May, 2010 at 4:36 pm    

    The Coalition has announced that it plans to scrap the policy, introduced by the Labour government, of imprisoning the children of asylum seekers, presumably in order to appear tough for the tabloids:

    Umair Umar recalls little about his ordeal at Dungavel, Scotland’s immigration detention centre — and, he says, he’d rather not. The 14-year-old and his family were held at the Lanarkshire facility for one night before being bundled in the back of a van and driven hundreds of miles south, where they were held at another centre, Tinsley House, in Sussex, for two days.

    “I don’t want to remember,” the child asylum-seeker says. “It was a bad three days.” Uzair, his 11-year-old brother, was frightened because they locked the doors. “It was like a prison,” he said.

    It was not a policy anyone could have been proud of, and it is good that it has been ended. The only problem is how to house the children now (as their parents will still be in detention centres).

    (Via Justin)

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    Filed in: Civil liberties

    14 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. earwicga

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Detention of asylum-seekers' children to end

    2. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: Detention of asylum-seekers' children to end

    1. Justin — on 17th May, 2010 at 4:41 pm  

      as their parents will still be in detention centres

      Is that going to be the case? I haven’t seen that said. That’s a cruel half-measure, if so. Research shows that it’s completely unnecessary to intern refugee families.

    2. earwicga — on 17th May, 2010 at 4:43 pm  

      The only problem is how to house the children now (as their parents will still be in detention centres).

      Bit of a big ‘problem’ that one! So not only will traumatised children be refused leave to stay, they will also be refused their parents.

      Yes it is progress that children won’t be locked up, but to orphan them is also wrong. I take it that the option is there for parents to refuse authorities from taking their children away from them? If so this pronouncement is meaningless as I would think most parents would feel it is better for their children if they aren’t separated.

    3. jim jepps — on 17th May, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

      Good news - but it isn’t ended yet. An eight month old baby was sent to Dungavel only today. From NCADP “Sehar Shebaz from Pakistan was detained at 1.30 this afternoon after going to report at the Home Office with her 8 month old daughter little Wanya. The family are currently en route from the reporting centre to Dungavel detention centre. the family have been in the UK for over 3 years.”

      The new policy needs to come in asap in my view.

    4. Dalbir — on 17th May, 2010 at 5:26 pm  

      The Daily Mail will be vexed!

    5. Shamit — on 17th May, 2010 at 5:43 pm  

      The policy is in place - but according to private offices of ministers, what we understand is it is not going to happen overnight.

      For example, we asked them about the question posed by Rumbold and they said that is one of the points that have to be considered. What apparently is going to happen is the Home Secretary has officially given a directive to the Immigration Minister to have a review of the policy and also the various implications. They are really keen to involve civil society and would bring in charities and other bodies to provide suggestions during the course of the review and would try to come to a consensus.

      As with all Government policy, it would take time but it would happen as it has been decided - how best to implement it is the key question now?

      Also, we were told Home office officials are looking at all judicial reviews that are undergoing right now regarding this issue - when asked how many or when it would happen - they were honest and said they honestly don’t know yet.

      So its in motion but I would be surprised if anything is implemented before the next 60-90 days.

    6. MaidMarian — on 17th May, 2010 at 5:43 pm  

      I have to agree with earwicga - this is, looking at the link, either totally unenforceable or an empty gesture.

      A more ‘humane’ system would be to return people far more rapidly than at present.

      The problem you have here Rumbold is what exactly does one do with asylum seekers with children? Many of the cries of human rights violations would make more sense was every immigrant locked up on arrival. Most are not, just those about whom there is a level of suspicion and as unpalatable as it is the presence of a child does not change that.

      This is not an easy issue and there are no good answers but this article seems to raise more questions than anything else.

    7. Don — on 17th May, 2010 at 6:03 pm  


      Can I understand from your comment that we are now looking at moving away from the choice between the Scylla of breaking up families and the Charybdis of imprisoning children? Because obviously that is the key point. If so then this is a genuinely good move, but we need to see the details.


      …a level of suspicion and as unpalatable as it is the presence of a child does not change that.

      Doesn’t it? A lone individual suspected of being likely to drop out of sight as against a family with all the social needs that implies? I would have thought that would change the level of reasonable suspicion, as Justin’s link seems to confirm.

    8. Shamit — on 17th May, 2010 at 6:25 pm  

      Don -

      I think you hit it on the head.

      There is real intention to get away from both those idiotic and inhumane positions and they are really seeking input on how best to handle it humanely and something that would have the least possible legal challenges or judicial review.

      So yes the will is there and now they just to have to make sure the official orders come out in the right way without causing too much ruckus.

    9. earwicga — on 17th May, 2010 at 6:44 pm  

      From the UKBA ‘Update on child detention’:

      The government is committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes. We can announce that Immigration Minister Damian Green will be leading a wide-ranging review to achieve this, setting out plans in the coming months.

      [my emphasis]

    10. MaidMarian — on 17th May, 2010 at 8:35 pm  

      Don - I take your point.

      Having said that, I still struggle to see how separating children and adults (which appears to be the plan) is any better.

      A faster system is the answer.

    11. jim jepps — on 17th May, 2010 at 10:12 pm  

      Having seen the quote from earwicga I am much less convinced that this will be happening any time soon.

      We need to remember that where these kids have parents we are imprisoning them for being born the wrong side of a line on a map - this should not be a crime. Neither their parents nor the kids should be locked up.

    12. Rumbold — on 18th May, 2010 at 8:51 am  


      I can’t see the government letting asylum seekers who are do be deported roam free.


      Well done for the digging. I suspected that this policy wouldn’t be enacted immediately, but at least the wheels seem to be in motion.


      I don’t think that there is a perfect solution (Don’s description is a good one); as you say, speeding up the process is better for everyone.

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