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Outcry! expresses concern about government’s wavering on child immigration detention pledge

Medical Justice report documents further damaging effects of child immigration detention

Following a report by The Guardian that the government plans to dilute its pledge to end the immigration detention of children, Medical Justice has released a report documenting further damaging effects of the practice. The report says that evidence from 141 cases from 87 families over a period of six years (of research) showed that 74 children experienced psychological distress. Additionally, 92 children suffered physical health problems (e.g. fever, abdominal pain, coughing blood), which the report claims were either caused or exacerbated by their detention.

The Prime Minister and Nick Clegg have both promised to end child detention. However the immigration minister, Damian Green announced in response to a parliamentary question that the government aims only to 'minimise' the detention of children. "At the moment, we are looking at alternatives to detention for children," he said. "It is our intention to minimise the detention of children in the future as a whole and, therefore, that aspect of Yarl's Wood's use will disappear, but clearly not its use for adult women."

In response to newspaper reports of 'a climb down' the Home Office issued the following statement:

"Significant progress has been made in working towards the commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes and we are currently piloting some proposed changes to our approach developed with partners. We have already announced that the family unit at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre will close. 'The Coalition: Our programme for Government', published on 20 May, said: 'We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.' That remains."

Outcry!, the partnership between Bail for Immigration Detainees and The Children's Society funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, says that in view of the damage done to children by detention, it is resolute in urging the government to end this practice without delay. The Children's Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees have expressed concern about Damian Green's comments and issued a statement calling on the Minister to re-affirm the Government's commitment to ending child detention through root and branch reform of the asylum and immigration system.