Muskhadzhiyeva and others v. Belgium (application no. 41442/07)

ecthrPress release issued by the Registrar Chamber judgment1

Muskhadzhiyeva and others v. Belgium (application no. 41442/07)


Violation of Articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) (second, third, fourth and fifth applicants)

No violation of Articles 3 and 5 § 1 (first applicant)

No violation of Article 5 § 4 (all applicants) of the European Convention on Human Rights Continue reading

“This judgement is not the beginning of the end of family detention in Belgium but the end itself”


“This judgement is not the beginning of the end of family detention in Belgium but the end itself”

On Tuesday 19 January, Belgium was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg for the detention of a Chechen family of four children and their mother in a closed reception centre. Having fled from Chechnya to Poland, they eventually arrived in Belgium on 11 October 2006, where they sought asylum. However, in accordance with the Dublin regulation, the Belgian authorities served them with a deportation order to Poland and placed in a closed transit centre. The ECtHR ruled that the detention of the children in this closed centre constitutes a violation of Article 3 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and awarded the applicants 17, 000 euros damages.

ECRE interviewed Mr. Alexis Deswaef, lawyer of the Muskhadzhiyeva family.

What implications will this judgement have for the detention of families? Continue reading

Migration and Sanctuary – questions for prospective MPs


The right to asylum is a sign of our common humanity. Both practically and theologically we are responsible for one another. Our mutual responsibility cannot stop at national boundaries. Claims for asylum form a small part of the total annual migration to the UK. Both planned immigration (via work permits, study visits etc) and migration in response to persecution have contributed hugely to the richness of culture and diversity in the UK. Immigration is, however, a sensitive political issue. There is a current debate about an appropriate and sustainable level of population growth. Some people fear that changes to culture and society will mean that their traditional way of life is threatened. These fears have been exploited by extremist political parties.

There were 25,000 asylum applications in 2008, down from 84,000 in 2002. Continue reading

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children were detained at Tinsley House immigration removal centre for more than 72 hours during 2009. [HL1125]

parliament_logoHouse of Lords / 26 Jan 2010 : Column WA316
Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children were detained at Tinsley House immigration removal centre for more than 72 hours during 2009. [HL1125]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): During 2009, 111 children were detained at Tinsley for more than 72 hours. This figure is taken from local data normally used for management information only.

Following a recent internal review, however, we have taken the decision to limit the length of stay for children to just 24 hours, after which they will be transferred to Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.

This is an interim measure pending a programme of changes we will be making at the centre to improve facilities for children.

26 January 2010

Don’t push asylum seekers deeper into poverty – email your MP now. It takes 2 minutes

38-degreesTell your MP to make a stand against asylum seekers being forced deeper into poverty. Email them now and ask them to tell the Home Secretary it’s time for a rethink.

If we all contact our MPs now and get them to contact the Home Secretary Alan Johnson, he will get a powerful message at just the right time.

About 38 Degrees

38 Degrees is the angle at which an avalanche happens. In the UK, 38 Degrees will enable people to act together, to create an avalanche for change.

Asylum-seeking children are going missing from care

A cannabis factory run by a Vietnamese gang discovered in South London

Trafficked children have been found working in illegal cannabis factorie

bbcAt least four children a week who are seeking asylum go missing from the care of local authorities, a BBC investigation has discovered.

A total of 330 children aged between nine and 17 vanished between April 2008 and August 2009.

Social workers believe many children were targeted for prostitution by traffickers exploiting asylum rules.

Home Office minister Meg Hillier told the BBC: “The figures are still too high, worryingly high.”

The exclusive figures were gathered using Freedom of Information requests to local authorities by The Report and voluntary group the Care Leavers’ Association. Continue reading

“The child’s best interests are not a primary consideration in immigration decisions. Immigration control takes priority over human rights obligations to children seeking asylum and their families”

outcryReport from Child Abuse & Neglect 33 (2009) 573–585

a b s t r a c t

Objective: The present study aimed to assess the mental and physical health of children held within a British immigration detention center.
Method: A total of 24 detained children (aged 3 months to 17 years) were assessed with their parents or carer after being referred by a registered legal charity. Thirteen were seen by a pediatrician alone, 4 by a psychologist alone, and 7 by both professions using semi-structured clinical interviews. The psychologist also used standardized self-report questionnaires to measure psychopathology.
Results: During the psychological assessment of 11 children, 8 met criteria for psychiatric “caseness” on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. All 11 reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep problems, somatic complaints, poor appetite, emotional symptoms, and behavioral difficulties were common. Symptoms of global distress were also reported by all 9 parents. According to pediatric assessment 8 out of 20 children had lost weight. Six had missed health appointments and 2 were taken to hospital. Nutritional, developmental, educational, and child protection concerns were raised.
Conclusions: Detained children were found to be experiencing mental and physical health difficulties of recent onset, which appeared to be related to the detention experience. These findings support previous Australian studies demonstrating that detention is not in the best interest of the child. It suggests that current UK policies regarding the detention of children for purposes of immigration control should be re-examined. Further research in the area is required. Continue reading

The Detention of Children in the Immigration System: First Report of Session 2009–10

parliament_logoHouse of Commons Home Affairs Committee: The Detention of Children in the Immigration System
First Report of Session 2009–10, Report, together with formal minutes Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 24 November 2009:


4. We were told that “nearly 1000 children a year remain in detention”,  and we have learned that at any one time up to 35 children are detained. However, Mr Wood explained that because of legal reviews and appeals of cases there is often a degree of “re-detention”— “there are duplicates in the sense of families detained twice”. We have been unable to discover how many individual families with children have been detained in the last year.
That such figures are not readily available is troubling. In future, Government statistics should be more informative and state how many separate individuals have been detained, not merely how many people have passed through detention. Continue reading