End child detention

The New Statesman has been running an investigation into the plight of children in detention centres for refugees (unfortunately, it seems that the popular choice of an expose of the link between South Wales suicides and New World Order technology will just have to wait for another day.)

A typical testimony:

Then my mum start talking and saying things to me – that if she died I must never forget that I had a mother that loved me, that she did everything to save me from the horrible life that she had, and that me and my sister must always love each other because that is the only thing we might have left in this world. Then she was all quiet, and then I saw she was trying to kill herself. She had the seat belt around her neck and she was trying to choke herself. I had to bang on the glass then and they did stop the van for a bit.

Our first night in Yarl’s Wood was just terrible. We couldn’t eat and we couldn’t sleep. There were special people there to look after my mum to stop her trying to kill herself again. I thought, if you are scared she will die, why won’t you let us stay in this country? Because if she goes back to Cameroon she will die.

There’s a pitiful response from immigration minister Liam Byrne.

Nobody wants to detain children. So, why does it happen? As a parent myself of three small children, I have a simple motive. I insist that we keep families together and not split them up.

The sad fact is that children end up within our detention estate because their parents refuse to go home – even when an independent judge reviewing the case at first hand, or on appeal, says they have no right to stay.

Since I became immigration minister, we have tried new ways of solving this problem. For example, asking families to report to airports without detention involved. The result? Disappointing. Virtually none turned up.

Awww. Disappointing, isn’t it? Poor old Liam.

Has it occurred to the Minister that perhaps families may not want to return to countries where they will be tortured and murdered?

His claims, including an assertion that detention centres provide NHS-standard care, are taken apart in the comment box.

It’s quite amazing that Mr Byrne doesn’t seem to know about all the families taken to Yarl’s Wood, then released back into UK society, as their deportation was not legally supported.

It’s also quite amazing that he hasn’t read the official reports by Anne Owers on that famed 24 hour health care. There is not a nurse available to detainees 24 hours a day at Yarl’s Wood. Anne Owers in her report of last month, details that if you request medical help at night, you have to wait until the next day and be seen in the shift time. And the on-call Dr is on the end of a telephone, and has never once, in living memory, attended the compound during the night. Mothers report asking for medical care for their children at night, and being told they can wait ’till morning. Anne Owers recent report confirms this.

Only if someone collapses, is an ambulance called, and Bedford Hospital picks up the pieces for Yarl’s Wood.

The magazine has a petition to sign:

Dear Home Secretary,

We welcome the UK’s recent commitment to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in full. In the spirit of that convention, we call on the UK government to end the practice of detaining children and families for the purposes of immigration control.

The government’s stated policy has been to detain children ‘only when absolutely necessary and for the shortest possible time’. In reality, however, children are often held for long periods in centres with inadequate healthcare and education. Many have been deeply traumatised by their experiences. This situation is unacceptable in a country which claims to adhere to high standards of human rights.

Our clear message is that the UK’s policy of incarcerating innocent minors must stop. Immigration detention centres are no place for children.

(Via John O at NCADC)

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