Ministers plan to grant the children of immigrants the same human rights as those born in the UK. The government U-turn had been due to face censure at a UN meeting for its policy of locking minors in detention centers. When the Government first signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, it retained the right to give controlling immigration precedence over the rights of children. Now, after mounting pressure from human rights activists and the UN, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is to announce the decision to scrap the opt-out. She said: "We want every child to be as safe and secure as possible. While the lifting of the immigration reservation does not mean that every child who comes to the UK will be entitled to remain, it does signal our commitment to treat children in the UK immigration system with compassion."
Prison inspectors have condemned the treatment of children held for deportation at Yarl’s Wood, the main immigration removal centre for women and children who have been refused permission to stay in Britain. Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, said she was "dismayed" that disabled children were being held at Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire and expressed "great concern" at the plight of those locked up there. In a highly critical report, Ms Owers said that 83 children had been held for more than 28 days. Inspectors said that children had become withdrawn, frightened and worried because of their experiences. Ms Owers said: "While child welfare services had improved, an immigration removal centre can never be a suitable place for children and we were dismayed to find cases of disabled children being detained."