LEADERS of Christian and Jewish Faiths called upon the Government to stop detaining the children of asylum seekers in letters to the national press last week.

The Most Rev Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, The Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and Susan Seymour, Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings, The Religious Society of Friends are among prominent Christians who signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for ‘an immediate end to the unnecessary and inhumane practice of imprisoning children, babies and young people in immigration removal centres.’ Continue reading

A matter of conscience: hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood

Frances Laing reports on the women’s hunger strike that started on 5 February

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers. | Frances Laing

On Friday 5 February women detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire started a hunger strike. It involved over eighty women who were locked up at the centre.

The following Monday the Black Women’s Rape Action Project – who support women at Yarl’s Wood – published a report that alleged that the hunger strikers had suffered brutal recriminations and had been beaten by guards and subjected to racist abuse:

‘Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway where they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women. As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing. Continue reading

The voices of the hunger strikers

Frances Laing spoke to some of the hunger strikers over the weekend

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers | Frances Laing

Denise McNeil is from Jamaica. Her brother was murdered there and she fears for her family. The mother of two spoke to me on the telephone from Yarl’s Wood Kingfisher segregation block on Saturday 20 February.

Denise seemed very weak and tired. She told me she was ‘so depressed’ and hadn’t been outside for two weeks. Sanitary conditions are ‘disgusting’ she said. ‘No water in the tap’, and the toilets were ‘not flushing’. She had been placed on suicide watch. As we spoke a male officer stood at the door. There were no proper medical facilities. Continue reading

Quakers call for end to detention of child immigrants

Christians join forces to urge change to government practice of imprisoning children
Quakers in Britain have joined a call on the UK government to ‘bring an immediate end to the unnecessary and inhumane practice of imprisoning children, babies and young people in immigration removal centres’.

The demand was made in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph today and was signed by Susan Seymour, clerk of Meeting for Sufferings (a decision-making body of Quakers in Britain). The letter was written in response to the children’s commissioner report on children detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, which was published last week. Last year, a report by NHS paediatricians and psychologists, ‘Lorek et al’, reported in the international peer-reviewed journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, (October 2009) that children locked up at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre were ‘clearly vulnerable, marginalised, and at risk of mental and physical harm as a result of state sanctioned neglect.’

The doctors recorded children’s ‘sexualised behaviour’, older children’s tendency to wet their beds and soil their pants, the ‘increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison’, the ‘abrupt loss of home, school, friends and all that was familiar to them.’ Continue reading

The Children’s Commissioner for England’s follow up report to: The arrest and detention of children subject to immigration control February 2010

Foreword and introduction

As Children’s Commissioner I have a statutory duty to promote awareness of the views and interests of children, particularly regarding their physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing, their education, training and recreation and protecting them from harm and neglect.

Each year some two thousand children are detained for administrative purposes for immigration control, the majority being held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. I have visited this facility three times during the last four years because of my profound concern over the treatment and management of children in that location. My second visit in May 2008 led to a report, The Arrest and Detention of Children Subject to Immigration Control, published in May 2009. In my report I argued that the administrative detention of children for immigration control must end, but being pragmatic and recognising that the process was unlikely to end immediately, I called upon Government to ensure that detention genuinely occurs only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time following the application of a fair, transparent decision-making process. Continue reading

Building a coalition – endorse OutCry!

Do you represent an organisation which supports our aim to end the immigration detention of children? We need your help! As individuals your help is crucial, but we also need to build a strong and broad coalition of organisations to put pressure on the Government. Why is this so important? Because the Government may try to dismiss a few organisations as “just the usual suspects” making a noise about something other people don’t care about. We know this isn’t true, and by joining together we can show them that a consensus exists. The Government also tends to listen to experts – that’s why the medical report and Royal Colleges’ statement before Christmas made such an impact. So we’re asking organisations like refugee groups, children’s charities, faith groups, unions and academic institutions to stand with us, along with doctors, teachers, social workers and lawyers. To endorse us, just send us an email at with the name of the organisation you represent, and the contact details of someone we can keep in touch with.

Thank you again for your support.

OutCry! response to Children’s Commissioner’s report 17 February 2010

Press statement in response to the Children’s Commissioner’s follow up report to the Arrest and Detention of Children subject to Immigration Control.

The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees strongly support the report published by the Children’s Commissioner for England, which adds to a growing body of evidence that the process of immigration detention is harmful to children.

As part of the OutCry! campaign, the two organisations support families who are currently detained or have been detained in Yarl’s Wood. OutCry! is calling for an end to the immigration detention of children. Continue reading

Minister ‘admits paying millions to detained migrants’ 11 February 2010

Immigration minister Phil Woolas has admitted millions of pounds are being paid in compensation to migrants who have been detained in removal centres.

Lisa Nandy, Policy Adviser, The Children’s Society and Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees, comment:

“Not only is immigration detention seriously harmful to children’s physical and mental health, this report also demonstrates that it is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

We do not need to detain children. Other countries do not detain children and they still manage to operate an effective immigration system. Continue reading

OutCry! comment on protests at Yarl’s Wood detention centre 09 February 2010

The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees have commented on the news that a group of mothers detained at an immigration centre have gone on hunger strike in protest at being separated from their children:

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children’s Society, and Celia Clarke, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, said:

“We are very concerned about the reports we have received from detainees in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre that there has been a disturbance which has resulted in the police being called. We understand that a number of women are protesting against their enforced separation from their children and are extremely distressed. Continue reading

Removal and HIV

The following comes from UKBA policy documents and instructions, and below is caselaw followed by a link to the BHIVA recommendations .

The Article 3 threshold
Applicants may claim that their removal from the UK would constitute a breach of Article 3 on account of their medical condition. Recent caselaw, both at domestic and Strasbourg level, has confirmed that the circumstances in which such a breach could be established will be exceptional. For guidance
please refer to the IDIs Chapter 1 Section 8 Paragraph 3.4.
[ which reads: 3.4. Human Rights Act. This paragraph has been withdrawn for updating. Claims that removal from the UK would breach Articles 3 and/or 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because of the claimant’s medical condition should be considered in accordance with the House of Lords judgment in the case of N v SSHD (2005) UKHL31 and other relevant case law.] Continue reading