Treatment waits, as child asylum seekers face interviews

They are greeted with `oppressive and unlawful’

23rd March 2010:
Child asylum seekers are being greeted with "oppressive and unlawful" interviews upon their arrival in the UK. The taste the repressive interviews even before they are offered basic welfare facilities like rest and food.

Their plight has been underline by a damning report, “Safe at Last? Children on the Front Line of Border Control”. The study was carried out by campaign group “Refugee and Migrant Justice”.

On the basis of the findings, it has now urged the UK Border Agency to reconsider its policy of interviewing new entrants to the UK before dealing with their welfare.

The report says youngsters questioned are also denied access to medical treatment, even if they are ill or are suffering serious injuries. Subjecting them to questioning as soon as they arrive also affects their answers. The possibility of this affecting their asylum claim cannot be ruled out, it has been argued.

Describing the policy as illegal, the group has even petitioned the High Court for a judicial review on the issue.

Quoting an example, the report says a child suffering from bomb blast injuries and stab wounds, and another with gunshot wounds, was detained and interviewed before being offered medical care.

Chief executive of Refugee and Migrant Justice Caroline Slocock says unaccompanied children coming into Dover arrive hungry, cold and often ill, after travelling for months in situations of great danger, fleeing war-torn countries like Afghanistan in order to find safety in the UK.

Their welcome is an interview by the UK Border Agency that often puts welfare at risk and is used to gather information which is later used against them. Such interviews, carried out without any independent adult or legal representative present, and sometimes without the right interpreters, would be entirely unacceptable anywhere else in Britain. Children should not be treated in this way.

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