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Britain's youngest Prisoners - Lack of 'Duty of Care'

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns | 28.07.2006 10:07 | Anti-racism | Migration | Social Struggles | Birmingham

The 'Hunger strike' by the parents of detained children at Yarl's Wood is still solid this morning. One of the mothers I just spoke to said that none of the parents took their children to breakfast this morning and will probably keep their children away from lunch and supper.

Children in detention are the forgotten children, often snatched' before dawn and imprisoned indefinitely. Somewhere this side of the wire are friends, teachers all wondering what has happened to these children and their parents.

So what has happened since last Thursday when I sent the bulletin '10 children + doing time - in immigration detention'
Aboubacar Bailey Junior made bail yesterday on his 100th day in detention

Brothers Adecokundo Taiwo and Adeole Taiwo are still there detained the children's health; welfare and lack of appetite are an ongoing concern for mum. Mum suffers with joint pains and depression; she says all she was ever given was Paracetomol. Children still want to know when they can go back home to their friends and school.

Aliyah our youngest little detainee is still doing time folks, born 15/06/06. She has also just spent a day in hospital because of constipation, mum said it is because of the poor diet, she is a breast-feeding mum and she says she is terrified to stop breast-feeding.

Her mother has concerns about hygiene issues at IRC. When I asked mum about where baby was born she said she was rushed to hospital from prison and then taken back to prison 4 hours after Aliyah was born, she said she has no family/friends in the UK as she was detained while in transit to Canada (mum was imprisoned for carrying false papers) to join her sister. Despite seeking asylum and being refused she said she has only used up her one appeal, "but it appears they would like to keep me indefinitely, no second appeal date has been set."

Leatitia, Stacy, Princess, and Promise have been deported, I don't know if all these children had received their *anti-malarials before being put on the plane. If not their lives will be in danger, as they will have no natural immunization against malaria Africa's biggest killer of children. Their removal makes me very, very angry.

Jan Belinda 3, Glory 5 and Daina 7 arrived at Yarl's Wood the day before I sent last weeks email. Their mother Prisca Mounkale had quite a harrowing tale to tell, she alleges she was assaulted and - driven across Britain half-naked with her children before arriving at Yarl's Wood IRC.

She was woken up on the 19/07/06 by the very loud banging of her front door with the police shouting for her to open the door, when she opened the door there were 8 possibly 10 immigration and police in uniform, two women quickly went upstairs to the children and Prisca alleges that she was physically, verbally and racially abused by the immigration officers, whilst the police just looked on and done nothing. Remarks like you came to Britain to sell yourself, what do want in this country?

Prisca said by then she was so distressed she was desperate for them to leave her and her children alone, she thought by striping naked they would leave her alone. She stripped to the waist and alleges the male immigration officers pushed her head in the sofa and assaulted her, handcuffed her and then picked up her bath mat to cover just the top half of her body. Prisca said she was taken outside like that and by this time her neighbours had come out to watch the whole drama. Prisca said I have never committed a crime in my entire life, for them to have done what they did to me is totally inhuman. Prisca said they were driven from Huddersfield to Leeds and from Leeds to Yarl's Wood IRC still half naked with her sobbing children next to her.

She said she threatened to kill herself rather than be so humiliated in front of so many strangers and her children, and is now on suicide watch. Prisca told me that her arms were painful and swollen when she arrived, she could not even comfort her youngest child, who is about two and a half years old, she said all her children are traumatised by the this hush unnecessary cruel and barbaric treatment.

Pastoral Visits
Have spoken to all the parents and questioned them about pastoral visits, not one of them knew what I was talking about, Pastoral visits are part of the IND Family removals policy to prepare families for removal.
Pastoral Visits: While giving evidence to the Select Committee on Home Affairs the Home Office Minster Beverley Hughes stated" in the case of families, a pastoral visit is usually paid by the Immigration Service before removal. .." Pastoral visits provide for the gathering of information regarding the circumstances of the family concerned and ensure that important issues such as *medical or special needs are taken into account when deciding on arrest, detention, transportation and / or removal.

One of the main medical needs of children/pregnant mothers/adults being returned to any country in Africa (Africa seems to be the Home Office main flavour for deportees at present) especially sub-Saharan Africa is immunization against malaria. The Home Office to the best of my knowledge do not inform the families of the need for anti-malarials, most families to get the anti-malarials have to take out or threaten to take out injunctions against the Home Office to get the required treatment.

Anne Owers published her report on Yarl's Wood on Wednesday of this week; I personally feel she has understated the facts. The people she talked about in her report and the people I have talked to over the last fortnight, could be interchanged. Nothing has improved that I can see and I personally feel things have got worse; there is definitely a lack of 'Duty of care' of the children and parents currently incarcerated in Yarl's Wood IRC.

Nellie de jongh
079 1028 2047

What you can do to help stop the detention of children
Attached to this message is a model letter addressed to the Home Secretary, that you can copy/amend/write your own version, asking him to end the detention of children his fax number/address:
Fax: 020 7035 4745 from outside the UK + 44 20 7035 4745

Or write to:
John Reid
Home Secretary
Home Office, 3rd Floor, Peel Building
2 Marsham Street
London, SW1P 4DF

Please notify Nellie of any faxes/letters sent:

Model letter:

John Reid
Secretary for State
Home Office, 3rd Floor, Peel Building
2 Marsham Street
London, SW1P 4DF

Dear Mr. Reid,
It is time to end the detention of children, parents of detained children at Yarl's Wood IRC, went on 'Hunger strike' yesterday to bring to your attention the terrible damage that is being done to their offspring.

Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, is still expressing concerns about the detention of children at Yarl's Wood IRC

"There was still no evidence to suggest that the child's welfare was taken into consideration when making decisions about initial and continued detention."

"we continued to have significant concerns about aspects of safety in the centre. It was even more difficult for detainees to obtain up-to-date and accurate information about their cases, as experienced, on-site immigration officers were being withdrawn. Removals were still being carried out without proper warning or planning."

"though more could be done to improve child protection practices in the centre. They require a complete overhaul of the detention of children, informed by a proper understanding of the vulnerability of children and the safeguards required in domestic and international law." Anne Owers

I hope you have read and taken note of "Alternatives to immigration detention of families and children", the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Children and Refugees report published on Wednesday 12th July.

This report explores the current practice of detention in the UK. It is not opposed to the removal of failed asylum-seekers, but is opposed to an unfair, inconsistent and often arbitrary system where immigration control is put before the need to protect children.

"The detention of these children runs contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) - though the [UK] Government's existing reservation to the UNCRC in relation to immigration means that children are excluded from its protection. (1)

"There is a broad consensus that locking children up with their families is inherently harmful and to be avoided wherever possible. The UK's Children's Commissioners, the UK's Chief Inspector of Prisons, international and national non-governmental organisations and community groups have all spoken out against the policy or conditions of detention. (2)

"The Home Office is not working efficiently, nor is it working in line with its own guidelines or with the best interests of children in mind. (3)

Successive Home Office ministers have acknowledged that it is regrettable to detain children and have stated a preference for avoiding enforced returns.
Despite this, the use of detention has continued to rise and it appears that the Government is increasingly intent on meeting removals targets AS set out in the five-year strategy on asylum and immigration, that explicitly anticipates a significant increase in the use of detention: (4)

This report offers a powerful and persuasive argument for accepting that the detention of children is wrong.

I therefore ask you to return all detained children and their parents back to their communities.

Please take on board the recommendations of the report so that the detention of children and their parents is brought to an end.

Yours Sincerely,




(1) Page 3/para 2 Alternatives to immigration detention of families and children
(2) Page 3/para 3 ibid
(3) Page 3/para 4 ibid
(4) Page 7 ibid

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns