Thursday, 10 December 2009

End Child Detention Now!

Yet again the administrative detention of children in immigration prisons has been criticised, this time by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health (and endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing), in a briefing paper entitled 'Significant Harm - the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families'. And yet again the Home Office trott out their usual tired response that children held in the asylum system are treated humanely and with compassion, and detention is a last resort. Who are they kidding?

There is a wealth of research and a mountain of published evidence from around the world that locking up children is harmful to their well-being, in both the short and long term. When will the UK government stop this barbaric and inhumane treatment of children and their families, something that they only do for their own administrative convenience?

From the joint press release:

Dr Rosalyn Proops, Officer for Child Protection, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health:

We are very concerned about the health and welfare of children in immigration detention. These children are among the most vulnerable in our communities and detention causes unnecessary harm to their physical and mental health. The current situation is unacceptable and we urge the Government to develop alternatives to detention without delay.”

Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners:

Children in immigrant families are already disadvantaged and at their most vulnerable. Detaining children for any length of time – often without proper explanation – is a terrifying experience that can have lifelong consequences. As well as the potential psychological impact, these children invariably experience poor physical health as they cannot access immunisation and preventative services. As a civilised society, we cannot sit back and allow these practices to continue – they are unethical and unacceptable. GPs work at the heart of their local communities and are well placed to work with families, agencies and the Government to come up with alternatives that will improve the health and life chances of these children and young people.

Dr Philip Collins, forensic adolescent psychiatrist representing the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

"The harsh reality about this country's immigration policy is that we are significantly damaging the mental health of many of the children and young people who end up - through no fault of their own - being detained in a prison-like environment by the UK Border Agency. The evidence is clear: this policy directly harms the mental health of children and young people. That is why the Royal College of Psychiatrists calls on the UK Government to end this practice without delay."

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, President of UK Faculty of Public Health:

"This issue goes straight to the very heart of social justice and human rights. We believe it is unfair and wrong to exclude these very vulnerable children and young people from equitable access to normal health and social care. The UK is a civilised nation. Let's demonstrate that by ending this discrimination right now."

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