Immigration detention of children: 'state-sponsored cruelty'

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown attacked for not scrapping asylum policy that leaves hundreds of children behind bars at Christmas

‘Moral cowardice’: Brown attacked for his policy on asylum

Gordon Brown was last night accused of ‘moral cowardice’ for failing to scrap a controversial asylum policy that will see hundreds of innocent children spend Christmas behind bars.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg urged him to bring an immediate end to the policy of locking up the children of families who are facing possible deportation.Full article: By Jason Groves, The Daily Mail, 14th December 2009

Below an interesting article on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children confirming the damage left by trauma. It is worth considering in light of the experiences of the children of asylum seekers and the trauma being experienced by children in “places of detention”.
Pamela Curr, Campaign Coordinator, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Melbourne

Brain imaging shows kids’ PTSD symptoms linked to poor hippocampus function in Stanford/Packard study


Nick Clegg urges end to child detention ‘cruelty

BBC News Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Holding hundreds of children in immigration detention centres is “state-sponsored cruelty”, says Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

In an open letter to Gordon Brown, he says the practice is indefensible and causes children mental distress.

He also accuses the government of trying to “cover up” the practice by not releasing figures of children held. Last month MPs said nearly 1,000 children a year are detained while awaiting deportation from the UK.

The home affairs committee said some were being held for up to two months and should only ever be held as a “last resort”.

‘Moral compass’

In an open letter in the Daily Mail, Mr Clegg urges the prime minister to put an end to the practice.

He writes: “One of the best ways to judge the moral compass of a nation is how we treat children – all children.

“There is now concrete evidence that the very young children who find themselves locked up even though they’ve done nothing wrong are suffering weight loss, post-traumatic stress disorder and long lasting mental distress. This attempt to cover up such a morally reprehensible practice only makes matters worse. How on earth can your government justify what is in effect state-sponsored cruelty?”

Mr Clegg says while Britain must keep track of adults seeking asylum it is “simply indefensible to do so at the cost of the mental and physical wellbeing of very young children”.

He accuses the government of consistently refusing to give total figures of the number of children detained.

On average, they spend more than a fortnight in detention, although periods of up to 61 days are not uncommon, it said.

Responding to that report last month immigration minister Phil Woolas said: “When the independent courts find a family has no need for protection, we expect them to return home rather than putting in frivolous appeals that clog the legal system.

Children’s Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green has said the practice of holding children in detention should end.

See also:
Medical experts condemn migrant child imprisonment.
Information, alternatives, lobbying and campaigning
More: NCADC Blog category: children