Child prisoners in Yarlswood detention center

The New Statesmen publishes a special issue on the detention of non-British children some of whom are detained for indefinite periods of time in a manner which is “cruel and inhuman”.

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It is shameful that UK law allows children who are not British to be detained without time limits and without judicial oversight. Many of the 2,000 or so children detained for administrative convenience every year have been here seeking asylum with their families. Others arrive on their own and are detained because, in the absence of identification papers, the immigration authorities refuse to believe that they are children.

For years the British government has tried to cover up the truth of what happens to women and children in detention centers such as Yarlswood. Now Sir Al Aynsley-Green, who is the Children’s Commissioner has exposed the reality for children in Yarlswood, nonetheless the government is refusing to change it’s policy towards asylum seekers in general and the detention of children in particular……

We were told of children denied the use of a toilet (or allowed to go only while being watched with the door open) before lengthy journeys in caged vans. Girls claimed they were made to get dressed in the presence of male officers, and boys vice versa. Virtually every child spoke of their fear and distress at being awakened and shouted at by adults in uniforms who had entered their homes violently. Children said they were separated from their parents, were not told where they were being taken, and were humiliated in front of friends and neighbours as parents were handcuffed and they themselves were marched into vans. One child told me of being removed from his class at school by uniformed officers. Children, even the youngest, are deeply affected and traumatised by these events. Many of them have recurring nightmares about them, and they often demonstrate changes in behaviour. They can become persistently withdrawn, cling to their parents, refuse food or wet the bed. Children’s best interests appear to me to be entirely invisible during the arrest and escorting process……………..

The UK’s immigration policy and detention of children is despicable. This is not just about compassion it is about justice and what is the right way to treat children – all children. Continue reading the rest of the report……….

UPDATE

A Center set up to keep children out of detention centers is due to close

The Home Office is abandoning a programme to accommodate children and their families outside immigration detention centres, it emerged last night.

Millbank, a former old people’s home in Ashford, Kent, was converted into a home for asylum-seeker families as part of an “alternative to detention” government pilot last year.

The project was aimed at keeping children in local schools while encouraging their families – who have exhausted their asylum appeals – to voluntarily return home.

However, the Guardian has learned that after almost a year in operation – during which it was supposed to accommodate up to 170 people a day – Millbank is empty.

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