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22 October 2009

Not suitable for kids

We continue to call for an end to child detention

By Daniel Trilling

The campaign to stop the British government locking up the children of asylum-seekers gathered pace last week. On 12 October, the Labour MP Chris Mullin tabled an early-day motion which noted this “unjustified and damaging” policy. It has been signed by 39 MPs from across the House, including Glenda Jackson, Peter Bottomley and Sarah Teather. And a petition launched by End Child Detention Now (ECDN) on the No 10 website is attracting high-profile signatories, including the actors Colin Firth and Emma Thompson.

ECDN grew out of a successful campaign to release a Barnsley-born toddler and his parents from the Yarl’s Wood detention centre in July. Each year, over 2,000 children are held in such centres simply because their parents have applied for asylum in the UK. Many go on to receive refugee status, but the experience is physically and emotionally damaging – there is no judicial oversight, and the detention period can last indefinitely.

Writing last September as part of the New Statesman’s award-winning campaign on this issue, No Place for Children, the children’s commissioner for England, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, said the detention policy “can only be described as inhuman”. The NS continues to call for an end to child detention.

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