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Child asylum seekers win six-figure compensation payout from the Home Office

"No amount of compensation from the Home Office can repair the traumatising and long-lasting effects detention have on children."

A family of four Kurdish asylum seekers, deported after spending 13 months in detention in Scotland, have won a six-figure Home Office compensation payout.

Solicitor Marcia Willis Stewart, who represented the Ay family in the civil action, told BBC Scotland News Online that the story of the Ay family was a reminder that they were  "far from perfect in their approach to human rights for children."

Yurdugal Ay and her four children in 2003, at that time aged between seven and 14, were returned to Germany.They had previously been lodged at the controversial Dungavel Detention Centre in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, for a year after living for in Northfleet, Kent.

It is reported a six-figure out of court settlement was reached. The details of the payment cannot be revealed for legal reasons. The family's lawyer claimed that they were detained unlawfully and for too long.

In response Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said that the case was one awful example of the traumatising and long-lasting effects detention had on children that no amount of compensation from the Home Office can repair.

Covey added, “We celebrated when the coalition government pledged to end the detention of children, but remain disappointed that although conditions for children are slightly better, the new family removals process still includes detention. We will continue to campaign for child detention to end once and for all until no other children are locked up by what is supposed to be a civilised state.”

The Ay family made and lost a series of applications for refugee status in Germany over many years after they first arrived from Turkey in 1988.

After the applications failed they travelled clandestinely in a lorry to Britain in June 1999. Moves to deport the family began after it was discovered that the Germans had already repeatedly dealt with their asylum claim.

A last-ditch application for asylum on behalf of the children failed and they were removed to Germany in 2003. Beriwan Ay, now 23, told the Guardian newspaper: "We spent 13 months with my mum and the four children crammed into one room.”

Ay added that before they went to sleep each night the guards counted them, something they really hated. Ay insisted that now freedom for her meant being able to sit in a room all by herself. She added: "We're happy to have received this money. It sends us a message that what the Home Office did to us was wrong."

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said that in March 2011 they established a new family returns process that ended the detention of children. The spokesperson added this ensured that families with no right to be in the UK were given every opportunity to leave without the need for further action and were offered assistance at every stage.

The spokesman asserted "As a last resort where all voluntary options have failed, families may be held in our pre-departure accommodation at Cedars, which is run in partnership with Barnado's."

 

 

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