Can be detained only when no other alternative exists
14th January 2011: The High Court ruling on the detention of children has made it clear that families with children cannot be detained for removal, until there are exceptional circumstances.
The judgment was pronounced on 11 January 2011. The verdict is being interpreted to mean from now on regardless of political decisions detention of families with children will take place only when exceptional circumstances exist.
In fact, it is being taken to mean that the families with children will be detained only when no other alternative exists.
The High Court had on 11 January 2011 ruled that forced detention of three children of two failed asylum seeker mothers at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre was unlawful.
Justice Wyn Williams had ruled they had suffered human rights breaches and were entitled to claim damages.
Justice Wyn Williams had added the three children were unlawfully detained after their deportation orders were cancelled. The Judge also directed the Home Office lawyers to agree damages with the mothers.
The two single mothers had 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, had sought directions to declare that the Government policy on detaining minors at the centre was so flawed that it cannot be operated lawfully.
The High Court ruling came about a month after the government announced the end to detention of children at the centre.
Failed asylum seekers, Suppiah and Bello were arrested by the UK Border Agency officers last February and were taken to Yarl’s Wood, Bedfordshire.
The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said the judgment and the closure of the Yarl’s Wood family unit `marks a real watershed in the fight for migrant children’s rights’