Child prisoners in UK detention centers

// 11 September 2008

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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”.

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 They can become persistently withdrawn, cling to their parents, refuse food or wet the bed.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……….

For more information and support contact the All Africa Women’s Group and Black Womens Rape Action Project at the Crossroads Women’s Center, 230a Kentish Town Road, London NW5 @Tel: +44-20-7482 2496

Cross posted from Black Looks

Comments From You

Jess // Posted 11 September 2008 at 2:21 pm

This is really horrendous… I just don’t understand how this is possible :/

Aimee // Posted 11 September 2008 at 4:37 pm

Because the media tells us that asylum seekers are lazy dossers who want to live off our hard work. Which, as we all know, is absolute complete and utter bullshit. I can’ not understand people who have clean water, a safe and warm place to live and the luxuries afforded to most people in the western world who begrudge an asylum seekers some degree of safety. But people do, because people are selfish and people believe what they are told. This is allowed to happen because no one cares enough for it not to. Because if helping families like the ones described in that article costs some people a new telly, or a weekend break to Paris, they don’t want to know. Something needs to be done about this… now… and something needs to be done about our attitudes.

sokari // Posted 11 September 2008 at 4:39 pm

Update – a center set up to keep children out of detention is due to close. See the Guardian @

Sian // Posted 11 September 2008 at 6:13 pm

The Children’s Commissioner was on Woman’s hour last week-it’s so unbelieveably depressing. Even if you didn’t give a toss about asylum seekers (as the government seem to be consistently showing) they shouldn’t be doing this on a financial level-aslyum seekers with family are the least likely to ‘disappear’ when their claim is rejected (quite hard to do with kids in tow) and it costs £40k-£50k per year to keep one person in detention. I’ve heard of families being in detention for over 2 years while their claim is ‘processed’ (my Gran works with asylum seekers). It isn’t even, as the government claims, those whose applications for ‘right to remain’ have been rejected who are placed in detention centres-people are routinely put in the middle of their claim.

Anne Onne // Posted 11 September 2008 at 10:35 pm

Awful. Treatment like this is lazy, inhumane, and nothing short of xenophobic/racist. There’s no justificaiton for not extending the minimal rights we consider to be basic courtesy to asylum seekers.

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