12 Nov 2010

Influential peers, including Bishops in the House of Lords, have called on the Government to honour its commitment - made six months ago today - to end the immigration detention of children.

In a letter to the Government, the peers highlight that:
· Children are still being detained, despite research documenting the damage that this does to children;
· The Government must put child welfare and safeguarding at the heart of any new practice being developed;
· The Government needs to develop a more humane system for the treatment of families and children who are subject to immigration control.

The letter has been co-ordinated by OutCry! – a partnership between The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees. OutCry! has long called for the ending of immigration detention of children.

Penny Nicholls, OutCry! Campaign spokesperson and The Children's Society’s Director for Children and Young People, said: “We strongly welcome the support of peers on this matter. Their concerns reflect our own.The jubilation of the announcement six months ago has been replaced by deep concern that children are still being detained. We urge the Government to honour their commitment and to put child welfare and safeguarding at the heart of any new practice.”

Letter:

Dear Sir,

It was six months ago today that the Coalition Government promised to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. Yet children are still being held in detention in spite of the clear evidence that this is harmful.

We call upon the Government now to fulfil the promise that it made to end the detention of children without further delay and to develop a more humane system for the treatment of families and children who are subject to immigration control. There is clear evidence from countries such as Sweden that far fewer families end up facing forced removal if steps are taken throughout the immigration and asylum process to address the barriers that prevent families best presenting their case.

Child welfare and safeguarding must be placed at the heart of any new practice that is developed.

We have an opportunity to restore the reputation of this country for keeping our promises and for protecting children from harm. The time for prevarication is over and the time for action has come.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Lord Dubs
Lord Dholakia
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
Lord Hylton
Earl of Sandwich
Bishop Tim Stevens
Baroness Howe of Idlicote
Lord Griffiths
Bishop John Saxbee
Baroness Richardson