Child detention at Yarl’s Wood under judicial scanner

High Court to rule whether such detention violates human rights
11th January 2011: The detention of children at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre in Bedfordshire is under the judicial scanner. The High Court is to rule whether such detention violates human rights.
The issue was brought to the High Court’s notice by two single mothers. They have alleged their children suffered from distress and trauma due to a lack of safeguards at the centre.

The petitioners, 37-year-old Malaysian nurse Reetha Suppiah and 25-year-old Nigerian national Sakinat Bello, have sought directions to declare that the Government policy on detaining minors at the centre was so flawed that it cannot be operated lawfully.

A ruling on their plea for judicial review will be given at London’s High Court by Mr Justice Wyn Williams.

Failed asylum seekers, Suppiah and Bello were arrested by the UK Border Agency officers last February and were taken to Yarl’s Wood, Bedfordshire.

They were taken to the UK’s main removal centre for women and children on the ground that they had no right to remain in the UK.

Reetha and her two boys, aged one and 11, were detained for as many as 17 days. On the other hand, Sakinat and her two-year-old daughter were kept for 12 days. They were later released and allowed back into the community pending their legal challenges.

Representing the families, Rabinder Singh QC said at a hearing last year the evidence before the court showed the harmful impact of their treatment on both mothers and children.

He claimed Reetha’s eldest child now lived "in continuous fear of re-arrest"; and added there was strong and consistent evidence to support the claim that serious harm is routinely caused to detained children.

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