11 Jan 2011

The High Court has today ruled that the immigration detention of two families was unlawful. The judge found that the detention of the families of Reetha Suppiah and Sakinat Bello breached articles 5 and 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – the right to liberty and the right to family life.

The court also found that detention is capable of causing significant and long-lasting harm to children, and that there is a considerable body of evidence of the policy not being properly applied.

The Judge in this case, Mr. Justice Wyn Williams, found that:

'On the basis of the evidence adduced by the Claimants and Liberty, no one can seriously dispute that detention is capable of causing significant and, in some instances, long lasting harm to children.' [Para 111]

‘The cases of the two families involved in this litigation provide good examples of the failure by UKBA to apply important aspects of the policy both when the decisions were taken to detain each family and when decisions were taken to maintain detention after removal directions had been cancelled.' [Para 224]

Celia Clarke, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees, said: “This judgment has quite rightly found that the detention of these children breached their human rights. As the judge himself commented, no-one could seriously dispute the damage that detention can cause to children”.

Penny Nicholls, Director for Children and Young People at The Children's Society, said: “This case highlights once more that immigration detention of children should be ended immediately. It is disappointing that, given the vast body of evidence of the harm experienced by children in detention, we continue to see children detained. However, we are encouraged that the Government has committed to ending the detention of children in immigration removal centres, and are keen to work with them to ensure that cases like this become a thing of the past”.

For more information, or interviews, please contact Rafi Cooper, The Children's Society, tel: 020 7841 4422 email rafi.cooper@childsoc.org.uk

Notes to editors:

OutCry! – The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees have joined forces, and through OutCry!, we are campaigning to end the immigration detention of children. OutCry! is funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.