Commons committee backs calls against locking asylum-seekers’ children

`Use power to detain children sparingly’

29th November 2009: Less than a month after the Scottish National Party called for an end to the detention of children in the removal homes, the Commons committee has backed the calls against the locking up of the asylum-seekers’ children.

With this, the home affairs select committee has made clear its stand on the issue, clearly throwing its weight behind the Scottish Government and parliament. The assertion comes at a time when concerns are being expressed for the welfare of 10-year-old Precious Mhango.

She was detained initially at Dungavel and is now at Yarls Wood, in Bedfordshire. She, along with her mother Florence are awaiting the fate of their case for judicial review.

The committee, in its report, has clearly recommended the power to detain children should be used only sparingly; and as a last resort and for the shortest possible time.
The committee has also rejected the claims that families due for deportation would abscond without detention.

Welcoming the House of Commons support, SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin said Precious Mhango’s experience showed how distressing it could be for children to be detained. She is currently working with the mother-daughter duo.

The MSP added the figures in the report highlighted the unacceptable number of children being detained.

Children’s societies, organizations and the general public have already called for an urgent review of the government’s policy of detaining youngsters, even as the UK Border agency recently claimed the damning report on inhumane detention of children in immigration removal centres was outdated.

They have all along been asserting the government needs to end the inhumane and unnecessary practice of detaining children and parents for immigration purposes, especially when it introduced legislation to protect from harm children seeking asylum.

It was being felt the problem was not limited to one centre, and the cases of deteriorating mental and physical health were not isolated incidents.

The Children’s Society and other organizations had asserted the children and families supported by them continued to suffer from worsening mental and physical health in detention. To make the matters worse, they were not getting the treatment and support they require.

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