Dawn raids to continue for asylum-seeking families

Children and Young People Now, 11 January 2011

Controversial dawn raids to remove asylum-seeking families and children from the UK will continue to be authorised under plans to end child detention in immigration cases.

An announcement last month on the future shape of immigration procedure emphasised moves to provide “family-friendly” pre-departure accommodation, allowing children the opportunity to leave the premises in the lead-up to a specific removal date.

However, a UK Border Agency document detailing the new process reveals a number of controversial practices will remain with pre-departure accommodation being used as a “backstop” option if alternative methods fail. Continue reading

Yarl’s Wood: Learning the lessons

JCWI, Jim Duffy 13 January 2011

Reetha Suppiah and Sakinat Bello and their young families are typical of the hundreds of recent victims of our immigration detention system. Over the course of their time in Britain, they have integrated into our society and formed significant ties to it. After years of fear and violence in their home countries, they were able to live in a comparatively peaceful environment, reporting regularly to the authorities.

Dawn raid

Then, one February morning, their homes were raided by teams of UK Border Agency officials. Danahar, Reetha’s eleven year-old son, assumed that he had done something wrong and that he was being taken away by “policemen” in the dawn raid. Sakinat’s two year-old daughter, Ewa, was lifted from her bed whilst still asleep and awoke in the arms of a uniformed stranger. Continue reading

Detention of children

Free Movement, 14 January 2011

The routine detention of immigrant children by the last Government was a disgrace. Claimed changes to detention policy by the current incumbents and the recent case of R (on the application of Suppiah) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 2 (Admin) (11 January 2011) reveal just how disgraceful practice used to be. This also turns out to be something for which officials as much as politicians are responsible. Continue reading

Negotiating Childhood: Age Assessment in the Asylum System

JCWI, Anna Verley Kvittingen, 14 January 2011

Introduction1
The Committee recommends that the State party […] Give[s] the benefit of the doubt in agedisputed cases of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCmRC) 2008: para. 71(e)).
In November 2009, the UK Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeals of two agedisputed unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs). Although the case, A&M, concerned the independence and competence of social workers to assess the age of UASCs under the Children Act 1989 (CA89), its importance lies with age assessment’s intrinsic link to asylum policy and the operation of the asylum system. A&M represents the culmination of a political controversy in which age assessment has been used to entrench, question and contest government asylum and child policy. Continue reading

‘Outdated’ prisons to close as immigration centres expanded

Guardian, Alan Tarvis, 13 January 2011

The capacity of Britain’s immigration deportation centres is to be expanded to nearly 3,500 as a result of today’s announcement by the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, that three “outdated and expensive” prisons would be closed.

One of the three prisons – Morton Hall, near Sowerby in Lincolnshire, which holds up to 392 female offenders – is to become Britain’s ninth immigration detention centre.

The perimeter fence at the women’s open prison is to be extended to include an extra resettlement unit within a new immigration deportation centre which will be staffed by retrained prison officers.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jan/13/prisons-close-immigration-ken-clarke

Immigration detention of children: a judge gets tough

IRR News, Frances Webber, 13 January 2011

A High Court judge has ruled that families with children can be detained for removal only in exceptional circumstances. A ground-breaking High Court judgment delivered on 11 January 2011, which means that henceforth, regardless of political decisions, detention of families with children can occur only in exceptional circumstances, when it is clear that no alternative exists which will ensure co-operation with removal.

http://www.irr.org.uk/2011/january/ha000019.html

Difficulty registering asylum claim – petition to Damian Green

The Leicester City of Sanctuary group is most concerned about the situation facing newly arrived asylum seekers as they try to claim asylum.  You can circulate this petition, and send it to your own MPs.

Leicester City of Sanctuary Petition to Damian Green MP, Immigration Minister

We the undersigned are becoming more and more concerned by the increasing difficulties would-be asylum seekers face in registering their claims. First the system of postal registration was scrapped and there was a requirement that all asylum seekers should register in person at either Liverpool or Croydon. Then the Liverpool office closed and everyone had to go to Croydon – this obviously penalised people who arrived in the north of the country. Now we find that it takes longer and longer to get an appointment at Croydon. Three months ago the waiting time was a week – now it is two. People are only seen between 8am and 1pm which is obviously very inconvenient if you have some distance to travel to get there. Phone numbers of the relevant officers are frequently changed increasing the difficulty of making appointments. Continue reading

Protecting Refugees information pack

Background
Many thousands of asylum-seekers are detained in Europe every year. The 1951 Refugee Convention states that refugees should not be punished on account of irregular entry. Detention should be left as a last resort, yet it is often employed for long periods of time, in centres ill-suited to the numbers of individuals they shelter and where conditions can be appalling and inhumane. The problems faced can include overcrowding, lack of hygiene, and insufficient clothing or food provisions. In some extreme cases there have been allegations of illtreatment and abuse by officials. Continue reading

Putting children at the centre of government

, 20 January 2011

Long before the latest savage cuts, the UK’s failure to prioritise children was an international disgrace. At today’s Westminster Education Forum, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the former Children’s Commissioner, urged children’s advocates to shape up and work together to challenge the government.

Children are the living messages to a time we will not see; Marx argued they are the human capital for the future. They are our nation’s single most precious physical, intellectual and potential wealth-generating resource, and their outcomes should be of keen concern to every adult. Putting it selfishly: Who will pay for our pensions and our late life care? – The adults of the future who are the children of today. Continue reading

Unsustainable: the quality of initial decision-making in women’s asylum claims

Asylum Aid has long held concerns about the treatment of women seeking asylum in the UK. This research was conducted to examine in detail one specific part of this process: the quality of the initial decisions made by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) when women claim asylum. The resulting report is the first in-depth study of decision-making for women seeking asylum since the introduction of the New Asylum Model in 2007. This Model was introduced partly to improve the way decisions were made, and this report tests how effective these reforms have proved.

Women’s asylum claims regularly present issues that are different from those presented by men, and can be highly complex and challenging. The findings in this report have deepened our concern that the UKBA is badly failing to meet this challenge, and that women seeking asylum are frequently let down by an extremely poor standard of decision-making. Continue reading